Owner of Tebbâ??s Head Shops admits illegally selling synthetic drugs

Tebb's Head Shop in Rome, NY

The owner of the Tebb's Head Shops chain pleaded guilty Wednesday to various charges related to the illegal distribution of synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

United States Attorney Richard Hartunian says that John Tebbetts, 33, of, Floyd, plead guilty to numerous charges in U.S. District Court in Syracuse.

As part of Tebbettsâ??s plea, he admitted ownership of several Tebbâ??s Head Shops in Central New York and Maine, including two in the city of Syracuse and one in Oneida. Tebbetts also admitted using a warehouse on East Dominic Street in Rome to store the drugs.

Hartunian says Tebbetts admitted that he possessed synthetic cannibinoids and bath salts with the intent to distribute them and with the knowledge that they would be used for human consumption.

Tebbetts also admitted to buying a 2012 motor home for over $157,000 with proceeds from illegally selling the synthetic drugs, says Hartunian.

Tebbetts faces up to 20 years in jail on each of five drug counts, up to 10 years for one county of money laundering count, and a fine of up to $5,250,000.

Tebbetts pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances, controlled substance analogues, and engaging in a monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

As part of his plea, Tebbetts agreed to forfeit $314,000 in cash along with six vehicles, including the motor home, a 2004 Toyota Scion, 2009 Cadillac CTS, two 2005 GMC trucks, and a 2009 Arctic Cat and trailer.

"This is a prime example of adult drug dealers luring our youth into dangerous and deadly drug use. Bath salts are marketed as innocuous to teens who will try this dangerous drug sold in head shops and not sold by the corner drug dealer," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell in a media release. "Tebbetts is a drug dealer, disguised as a business selling Bath salts, Spice and K2 over the counter, knowing full well these controlled substances would be ingested by teens and young adults."

Tebbetts is scheduled to be sentenced on April 29, 2013, in U.S. District Court.

In August, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said that following an undercover investigation, his office filed a new lawsuit against Tebb's Head Shops for the sale of bath salts and synthetic drugs for its violation of New Yorkâ??s labeling laws. It was one of 12 lawsuits Schneiderman filed last month against 16 head shops.

This prosecution stemmed from an investigation that began in the spring of 2012.