Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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November 17, 2012

Judge won’t dismiss Elvers drug charges

Former head shop owner appears headed to trial on multiple felonies.

Former Kokomo head shop owner Gary Elvers was in court Friday in an unsuccessful bid to have multiple felony drug charges thrown out prior to trial.

Elvers, arrested after a 2011 Kokomo Police Department investigation, had more charges slapped on him this year when test results came back on items seized in a Kokomo police raid.

He faces charges of dealing in a synthetic drug, dealing in a synthetic cannabinoid, corrupt business influence and maintaining a common nuisance in connection with police allegations he sold or stored spice and bath salts at his former store on West Mulberry Street.

Friday, Elvers’ attorney, former Libertarian political candidate Stephen Dillon, argued Indiana’s laws against selling synthetic drugs was unconstitutionally vague and that Elvers wasn’t allowed enough time to dispose of his inventory.

Howard Superior Court 1 Judge William Menges declined Dillon’s motion to dismiss, saying there weren’t any appellate court rulings to show whether or not the relatively new synthetic drug laws will pass constitutional muster. Menges also turned down Elvers’ request to use $10,000 in cash — money Dillon said is now in the possession of Kokomo police — from a seized bank account to pay his attorney.

Kokomo police searched Elvers store four days after the state Legislature enacted stricter laws governing the synthetic drugs popularly known as “spice” and “bath salts.”

Kokomo Detective James Nielson said in an affidavit that he attempted to purchase spice and bath salts during a March 19 undercover visit, but “learned” that the products had been taken off the shelves.

The same day, police executed a search warrant, and found suspected banned products in a closet.

Nielson said police seized about 900 different products during the raid, and sent 17 of those products to the Indiana State Police Lab for testing.

Sixteen of those products tested positive for controlled substances, according to the affidavit.

Friday, Elvers claimed he’d received lab test results — some of which he requested after being arrested — indicating the items in question didn’t contain banned substances.

Originally arrested on five charges — dealing synthetic marijuana, two counts of maintaining a common nuisance and corrupt business influence — Elvers was rearrested in July on seven additional charges. He now also faces six felony counts of dealing in a synthetic drug and an additional felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance.

Elvers attorney is expected to ask for a continuance of his trial date, and arguments are scheduled Dec. 14 on a motion to suppress evidence.

Elvers successfully fought charges of possession of paraphernalia more than 10 years ago, and was the only local vendor of spice and bath salts willing to speak out publicly two years ago when the Kokomo Common Council discussed a local ban.

Scott Smith can be reached

at 765-454-8569 or at

scott.smith@kokomotribune.com

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