Suspected dealers gave up $10,000 in drug taxes during Wakarusa festival
Kansas revenue agents take in about $1 million a year in cash or property seized from suspected drug dealers, with or without criminal charges being filed.
About $10,000 was collected that way from the increased law enforcement at this year’s Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival, according to tax warrants filed last week in Douglas County District Court.
At least 13 people from around the country had suspected drug money seized during the festival weekend.
The biggest cash stash taken was $2,555, from Patrick J. Stanley, 25, of Delbarton, W.Va., who was arrested for possession with intent to sell LSD and psilocybin mushrooms.
The tax cases are just part of the ongoing legal aftermath of the festival. At least 10 people still have felony drug-dealing charges against them, including 28-year-old Dustin D. Russell, of Albuquerque, N.M., who rode a train to Lawrence last week to make it to a court date in Douglas County District Court.
Russell is charged with possession of LSD, a misdemeanor, and possession with intent to sell LSD, a felony. He plans to challenge the dealing charge on the grounds that his tent was searched illegally, but he admits he had the drug for his personal use.
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“It’s part of the scene,” he said.
The drug tax is separate from any criminal charges. Stanley, for example, was charged with two felony drug-dealing crimes but was allowed to plead to misdemeanor possession charges.
“The evidence, after the charging, was not sufficient for the charges,” Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said.
Judge Michael Malone sentenced Stanley to a year in jail but freed him after 21 days behind bars. Branson’s office recommended a $200 fine as part of the plea deal, but Malone waived it.
The drug tax, enacted in 1987, was a way to ensure that people who dealt drugs paid some taxes because they don’t collect sales taxes or pay income-tax on their profits. If dealers are caught with a certain amount of a drug – more than an ounce of marijuana or more than 10 doses of LSD, for example – and don’t have a “Kansas Drug Tax Stamp” affixed for the proper amount, the state can assess the tax against them.
Someone with 100 doses of LSD, for example, would owe $4,000 in taxes. But historically, the state only collects about one-tenth of the drug-tax amounts it assesses.
For example, Ryan Matthew Dabkowski, a 23-year-old Connecticut man arrested during the festival for possession with intent to sell marijuana, was assessed a $47,200 tax, but agents seized $160 from him and most likely will leave it at that.
“For the out-of-state people, generally speaking, what we get at the time is all we’re going to get out of them,” said Phil Wilkes, an attorney for the Kansas Department of Revenue. “We don’t have the means to go after them.”
Dabkowski has not been charged in criminal court.
Three-fourths of the money collected through drug-tax seizures goes back to the police agencies that made the bust. Lt. Doug Woods, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said there are no specific plans yet for how to use the money seized at the Wakarusa festival, but that the money seized by the local drug squad historically has been used for surveillance equipment such as night-vision goggles, audio surveillance equipment or rental cars.
Since the law began, the state has sold about $33,000 worth of drug tax stamps. Wilkes said he doesn’t know exactly who’s buying them, in part because the law requires the purchase of the stamps to be anonymous.
“I’m going to say that probably somewhere between a fourth and a half of those were collectors,” Wilkes said. “I have no way of knowing for sure.”
These are some of the cases still pending in District Court related to the Wakarusa Festival:
¢ Garth D. Brosemer, 34, Tierra Verde, Fla., charged with possession with intent to sell ecstasy. He failed to appear in court June 15, and a $10,000 warrant was issued for his arrest.
¢ Joseph P. Beuregard, 25, Altamont, N.Y., charged with possession with intent to sell ecstasy. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Aug. 10.
¢ Willie Golden, 48, Mount Union, Pa., is charged with dealing a counterfeit substance and is scheduled for a hearing July 31.
¢ Joshua P. Cohen, 23, Hackensack, N.J., is charged with selling ecstasy, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana. He’s due in court Aug. 4.
¢ Ryoji McCormick, 20, of Arroyo Seco, N.M., Oneilo Lopez, 21, and Sergio Lopez, 21, of Taos, N.M., arrested for possession with intent to sell marijuana, were due in court Monday but had their cases postponed until Aug. 15.
¢ Dustin D. Russell, 28, Albuquerque, N.M., charged with possession with intent to sell LSD. He appeared in court last week in Lawrence to have an attorney appointed and had his case postponed until Aug. 31.
¢ Michael Schneiders, 23, St. Louis, Mo., charged with offering to sell psilocybin mushrooms to an undercover officer and with selling LSD. He has retained attorneys from Kansas City to represent him.
Checkpoint charges: Some of the people arrested on drug charges at a Kansas Highway Patrol checkpoint outside the festival have not yet had formal charges filed, including Lawrence resident Charles S. Pearlman, 22, who was arrested on suspicion of marijuana dealing.
Three men from Des Moines, Iowa, arrested in the checkpoint for possession with intent to sell LSD- Peter J. Casey, 21, Benjamin McCoy, 20, and Jacob W. Norman, 20 – have not yet been charged. But the state did seize $1,107 cash from their vehicle.