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Baton Rouge federal judge: Prosecutors’ drug case ‘weak’

There's no such thing as a conspiracy of one. At least two people must agree to break a law before a crime meets the definition of a conspiracy. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors also must show a defendant was aware of a plan and participated in taking the plan forward.

A federal magistrate ordered $100,000 bail for a Baton Rouge businessman accused of taking part in a conspiracy to import Chinese chemicals for the purpose of manufacturing synthetic marijuana. The 42-year-old's arrest came after federal drug agents raided the man's Baton Rouge home and business, Tim's Wholesale. Several Louisiana residents are charged in the case, which is playing out in an out-of-state federal court.

Prosecutors alleged the business owner used fake package labels to move the chemicals from China into the U.S. The defendant's attorney said there's no way to prove his client was the one who ordered labels on the chemicals to be switched in China. The man and a second Baton Rouge defendant, a 21-year-old woman, pleaded not guilty in an Oklahoma court to charges of conspiracy, smuggling and money laundering.

Copious case-related documents apparently were seized during raids in and out of Louisiana. A judge agreed 100,000-plus pages of documents and contents of 15 computers were a lot to review in advance of a trial scheduled for the middle of this month. The trial was moved back until next May.

The bail judge for the Baton Rouge man commented during the defendant's hearing that the prosecutors' case was "weak." Reports did not say why the magistrate felt that way. At that hearing, the defendant's lawyer admitted the man sold synthetic marijuana but not after sales became illegal.

Louisiana defendants charged with drug offenses often face hardships long before any plea or verdict. Criminal defense attorneys help to minimize the indignities of the legal process and shelter defendants' rights and reputations.

Source: The Advocate, "Baton Rouge man pleads not guilty in federal smuggling case" Ben Wallace, Jul. 30, 2014

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