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Forum News Service, Published October 08 2013

Duluth shop owner convicted on 51 charges linked to synthetic drugs

MINNEAPOLIS - The owner of a Duluth business accused of selling synthetic drugs under other labels was convicted of 51 federal crimes by a Minneapolis jury Monday.

The trial is seen as one of the first major tests in federal court of how effectively authorities can combat synthetic drugs.

Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson, 56, faced 55 federal charges for allegedly selling misbranded drugs and controlled substances, as well as money laundering; while his girlfriend Lava Haugen and son Joseph Gellerman faced four counts each.

Haugen was found guilty of four crimes while Gellerman was found guilty of two.

Defense attorneys indicated that they plan to appeal to the conviction and ask for a new trial because Judge David S. Doty limited certain evidence they had planned to introduce.

Prosecutors also asked that Carlson forfeit approximately $6.5 million in assets, but Doty said he would wait to rule on that.

Prosecutors said the defendants knew they were selling recreational drugs that people would use to get high. Carlson didn't deny selling the products, but his attorneys argued he did nothing illegal.