Feds want to send son of synthetic drug dealer to year in prison

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 9:38 PM
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Joseph Gellerman was arrested and taken from the Last Place on Earth in Duluth after a raid.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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Saying they have detected no remorse, federal prosecutors asked that a 35-year-old Duluth man be sentenced to one year in prison for his role in dispensing illegal synthetic drugs from the head shop of his father, James Carlson.

Defense attorney Charles Hawkins countered that Joseph Gellerman had no knowledge he was committing a crime and urged he be put on probation.

Carlson was convicted of 51 criminal counts including conspiracy to sell synthetic drugs. But the jury found Gellerman not guilty of the most serious counts, including conspiracy, his attorney, Charles Hawkins argued in a court brief filed Wednesday. Instead, he was convicted of two misdemeanors.

Prosecutors argue that Gellerman sold synthetic drugs for three years from the head shop, Last Place on Earth, publicly advocated for the sale of the drugs and continued selling them after he was indicted by a grand jury and later charged in St. Louis County.

“Gellerman has shown a complete lack of remorse for the sale of synthetic drugs,” prosecutors Surya Saxena and Nathan Petterson wrote in a brief. “He has further demonstrated a reckless disregard for the public health and safety problems that he helped create by distributing these drugs.”

The prosecutors said a one-year sentence would “send the message to others like Gellerman, that the potential financial benefits of synthetic drug-trafficking do not outweigh the significant consequences.”

Hawkins contended that Gellerman believed what he was selling was legal because his father said it was.

He also argued that Gellerman’s belief is consistent with the government’s position that his father “routinely and self-servingly misinformed his customers and the public about the legal status of his drugs.”

Hawkins quotes a federal memorandum, saying Carlson “carefully constructed an illusion of legality surrounding these drugs.”

Last month, James Carlson was sentenced to 17½ years in prison. His girlfriend Lava Haugen, who also worked at the shop, was convicted of conspiracy and received five years.

Gellerman is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Doty on Sept. 17.

 

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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