May 03, 2016
Contact: Special Agent Cheryl Davis
Phone Number: (313) 234-4000
Ohio Couple Who Owned Chain Of “Head Shops” Sentenced To Prison For Distributing Synthetic Cannabinoids Known As “Spice”
Five individuals in total have pleaded guilty in the distribution conspiracy that sold synthetic drugs in multiple locations across Ohio
CLEVELAND - A Grafton, Ohio, couple who owned a chain of head shops was sentenced to prison for conspiring to distribute synthetic cannabinoids, known as “Spice,” law enforcement officials said. Sean Lightner, 41, was sentenced to three years in prison while Sherry Lightner, 40, was sentenced to two years in prison. Nathan Albright, 30, of Glendale, Arizona, was sentenced earlier this month to two years in prison.
All three previously pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogue, as well as engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity.
“This couple operated stores throughout the state to sell dangerous synthetic drugs to anyone who walked through the front door,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon. “They knew what they were doing was illegal.”
Dale Drummond, 41, of Cleveland, and Mark Picard, 34, of Whittier, Calif., have previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy, and are awaiting sentencing.
Synthetic cannabinoids are a large family of chemically unrelated structures functionally similar to THC. Synthetic cannabinoids may contain Schedule I controlled substances or and have purported hallucinogenic effects when smoked or ingested.
The Lightners operated a chain of head shops -- retail stores specializing in drug and smoking paraphernalia -- doing business as Twilight Boutique, where they sold synthetic cannabinoids along with accessories such as pipes and rolling papers, according to court documents.
They franchised the Twilight Boutique on Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio, to Drummond for a percentage of the store’s monthly revenue. Drummond also sold synthetic cannabinoids from the store, according to the court documents.
The Lightners expanded their business to include several locations in Ohio after they began selling synthetic cannabinoids. According to court documents, they had operations in the Ohio cities of Grafton, Streetsboro, Sandusky, Brunswick, Elyria, Fairview Park, Plain Township, Athens, West Carrollton, and Ontario, and one shop in Oneonta, N.Y.
The Lightners presented laboratory reports to others, including employees, alleging that the synthetic cannabinoids sold in the Twilight Boutique stores did not contain controlled substances or controlled substance analogues in an effort to give the appearance that the synthetic cannabinoids were legal when the Lightners knew they were illegal, according to court documents.
Albright manufactured and sold synthetic cannabinoids through his company, Desert Distribution, LLC and Albright and Picard sold synthetic cannabinoids through their company, Royal Dutch, LLC.
Prosecutors forfeited nearly $400,000 in cash as well as several firearms and automobiles as part of the investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carmen Henderson, Teresa Dirksen and Christian M. Stickan, following an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA), Internal Revenue Service -- Criminal Investigations, Lorain County Drug Task Force, Medina County Drug Task Force, Portage County Drug Task Force, Westshore Enforcement Bureau, MEDWAY Drug Enforcement Agency, METRICH Enforcement Unit, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Linndale Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Cleveland Police Department, Ontario Police Department, Sandusky Police Department, Ohio HIDTA and the Ohio State Patrol.