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Tom Olsen, Forum News Service, Published December 19 2013

More than $750,000 seized from home of synthetic drug dealer

DULUTH — Authorities say they seized more than $750,000 in cash Wednesday from the Superior, Wis., home of Jim Carlson, the man convicted of selling synthetic drugs from his store in Duluth.

Synthetic drugs and suspected marijuana were found in the search conducted by Duluth and Superior officers and the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, Duluth police said. Other items seized include body armor, ammunition and high-capacity magazines.

No arrests were made during the search.

Carlson, who remains in custody at the Sherburne County Jail in Elk River after his Oct. 7 conviction on 51 federal crimes, shares the home with his girlfriend, Lava Haugen.

Duluth police Lt. Steve Stracek said the search was the result of information obtained after the conviction and noted that “what we were looking for is what we found.”

Stracek said charges could be filed in relation to the search but declined to discuss specifics of the investigation.

“At this point, I don’t know which direction this will go,” Stracek said. “We’re working with state and federal authorities to see how it will end up, but I don’t have anything firm I can say.”

Some of the discoveries could come as violations of the conditions of release for Haugen, who was convicted of four federal crimes. She has been ordered not to possess any controlled substances and is barred from possessing any firearm, destructive device or other weapon, except for purposes of legal sales at the Last Place on Earth store.

Carlson’s attorney, Randall Tigue, said he has not had an opportunity to review the warrant but said it’s probably related to a judge’s preliminary order of forfeiture filed earlier this month.

U.S. District Judge David Doty ordered that federal authorities could seize several of Carlson’s assets, including his downtown Duluth store and Mexico vacation property. The order becomes final at the time of sentencing, which has not yet been set.

On Dec. 12, the U.S. Marshals Service seized the downtown shop, removing store signs and posting “no trespassing” signs.

The home is not included in the order as a property that could be seized, but some of its contents, including the cash, may be. The property has a fair market value of $430,100, according to Douglas County records.

The forfeiture order required Carlson to turn over about $6.53 million — the amount he was estimated to have made from illegal synthetic drug sales.

In addition to nearly $3.5 million seized from various bank accounts, Carlson was ordered to forfeit as substitute assets the downtown store, two vehicles and several properties in the United States and Mexico, along with more than $183,000 seized at Carlson’s home in April.

Defense attorneys repeatedly have said they will appeal the federal convictions to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Carlson and his son, Joseph Gellerman, who was convicted on two federal counts, are set to stand trial on state drug charges next month.