Leader of $10 million international misbranded drugs ring heading to prison
The leader of an organization that distributed more than $10 million in misbranded drugs and synthetic marijuana in the U.S. and internationally is headed to prison for nearly four years.
Paul C. Chomiak, 51, Tuesday was sentenced to 46 months, fined $500 and ordered to forfeit up to $6,448,988 in proceeds from the illegal operation. He will be on supervised release for two years after the jail term.
That was the sentence handed down by U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann on the Bloomsburg resident, who allowed Chomiak to self-report to prison on June 29.
Chomiak, who is frail with sight and hearing issues, was unable to stand during the more than hour-long proceeding. His only comment was to apologize.
He had pleaded guilty in 2014 to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.
He is the seventh of eight individuals indicted five years ago in the conspiracy to be sentenced. Combined, they are required to forfeit $7,008,965.
Only Dwain Colin Dunwell of London, who ran the international part of the operation, has yet to appear in federal court.
He is in prison in Hungry and is unlikely to ever to be brought back to the United States, Brann said.
Chomiak began selling designer drugs commonly known as bath salts in 2009 and obtained synthetic marijuana from a vendor in the United Kingdom, the judge noted in reviewing the scope of the conspiracy.
As customer interest grew, he started taking Internet orders and hired Lindsay Lee-Lampshire of Michigan to create websites, he said. Lee-Lampshire has been sentenced to 21 months in prison.
The business grew to where he was selling wholesale, Rocktashel said. “He tried to stay one step ahead of the law,” he said.
Chomiak kept doing business despite in 2011 surrendering 400 pounds of bath salts to the Federal Drug Administration and being subjected to a May 2012 search by the Columbia County Drug Task, he said.
People who walked by his two stores in Bloomsburg did not realize in the basements people were packaging misbranded drugs and fulfilling Internet orders, Rocktashel said.
He used locations in Philadelphia to receive products and they would be transported to Bloomsburg, he said.
Although the products were labeled not for human consumption, buyers knew they could high on them like using marijuana and cocaine, he said.
The prosecutor’s comment Chomiak made “an awful lot of money” was reinforced by the judge who cited monetary transfers in the amounts $50,000 and $100,000 to Belize and $215,000 to a lawyer brother in California.
Banks in the Bloomsburg area stopped doing business with him because of the high volume of overseas transactions, Rocktashel said.
Chomiak assembled a staff that included those versed in information technology and logistics to market his products, he said.
Defense attorney Philip Gelso of Kingston, in arguing for a non-custodial sentence due to Chomiak‘s mental health and medical issues, pointed out his client sought legal advice.
One of those lawyers, Clyde Kevin Middleton of Orangeville, was sentenced in March to 18 months in prison and fined $1,000. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to introduce and deliver misbranded drugs.
The indictment also charged four businesses included one operated by Lee-Lampshire but those counts will be dropped, Rocktashel said.
Computer geek gets 21 months in multi-million dollar synthetic pot, bath salts case
“You had something going for yourself but you messed up,” U.S. Middle District Judge Mathew W. Brann told Lindsay Lee-Lampshire after sentencing him to 21 months in prison. Instead, the judge said, those computer skills were used for the wrong purpose.
Lawyer gets 18 months in multi-million dollar synthetic pot, bath salts case
“I know what I did was wrong,” said Middleton who will lose his license to practice law.
Columbia County men charged in Internet “bath salts” and “Spice” trafficking network
The indictment alleges that from September 2009 through the present, Chomiak, Lee-Lampshire, Stein, and Savitski marketed and distributed controlled substance analogues and misbranded drugs, commonly referred to as “bath salts” and “spice,” using Internet web sites and two stores in Bloomsburg operated as Symplegades Requiem and Reflectionz.
Side effects of synthetic cannabinoids
- Nausea and vomiting
- Aggression and agitation
- Loss of consciousness
- Extreme anxiety
- Paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
- Hallucinations—sensations and images that seem real though they are not
- Respiratory failure