A six-person jury deliberated two hours Wednesday, finding a former Kokomo businessman guilty on four of the seven felony charges he faced.
The jury of four women and two men found Gary Elvers, 58, guilty in Howard Superior Court 1 of three counts of possession of a synthetic drug with the intent to deal and one count of maintaining a common nuisance, all Class D felony charges, after the three-day trial. The jury acquitted Elvers on three others charges of possession of a synthetic drug with the intent to deal.
After the verdict was read, Elvers was taken into custody and transported to the Howard County jail to be detained until his March 6 sentencing. Elvers could face up to three years in prison on each count.
Throughout the trial, Elvers admitted to possessing the items police found at his business, but said he didn’t know they were illegal substances and that he did not have them for sale to the public.
An undercover officer went to Elvie’s former head shop on West Mulberry Street in March 2012 and attempted to purchase synthetic drugs and was told they did not have any for sale. Police then obtained numerous search warrants for the business and found hundreds of bath salts and synthetic marijuana police believed were controlled substances in locked safes in a locked closet in a bathroom of the business.
The raid took place four days after a new law banning a wider range of synthetic marijuana and other substances took effect.
In his closing argument, Elvers attorney, Steven Dillon, told jurors the fact the products were not on the shelves and were placed in a locked room proves Elvers did not intend on selling the items. Dillon also told jurors that Elvers took the products off the shelves after the new law was passed in order to send them back to the distributor to get his money back. He estimated the cost of the products at $10,000 to $20,000.
Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann, on the other hand, told jurors that the fact that the products had price tags on them is proof Elvers intended on selling the products.
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” McCann told jurors in his closing argument.