Spice bust nets guilty pleas | NevadaAppeal.com

Spice bust nets guilty pleas

Steve Puterski

Two Fallon residents indicted on federal charges have entered guilty pleas for distributing the synthetic drug Spice, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas.

Parvin Rajput and James Christensen each entered their pleas in October and will be sentenced in February 2014. Rajput, who pleaded on Oct. 10, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, a $1 million fine or both. There is no mandatory minimum sentence in his case.

According to the plea agreement, the United State will recommend the court sentence Rajput to the “low-end” of the sentencing guidelines.

Rajput pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute a controlled substance and controlled substance analogue, according to the plea agreement. In addition, he waives his right to withdraw the plea, while the federal government agrees not to bring any additional charges.

Christensen, meanwhile, entered pleas to three counts of possession of a controlled substance analogue intended for human consumption. He faces one year in prison for each count, a $100,000 fine or both.

Christensen admitted he possessed Spice on three different occasions on July 6, 2012.

A federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment Sept. 11 against two other Fallon residents, Gurprett Singh and Ranjeet Singh, who were arrested in connection with selling Spice. A jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2014.

All four were arrested in February when the Drug Enforcement Agency, Fallon Police Department and the North Central Narcotics and Tri-NET task forces, executed a federal search warrant on Feb. 6 and seized 2.78 pounds of Spice and approximately 100 smoking pipes.

As for Rajput, he was the manager of Town Food & Liquor, 395 S. Maine St. On June 28, 2012, an undercover U.S. DEA special agent asked Rajput for “fake weed.”

An employe identified in the plea agreement as “Ms. S” asked the agent if he meant spice, which the agent replied, “yes.” The agent said he never tried spice and asked which type was the best.

After Ms. S handed the officer a bag, she said “smoke it just like weed,” but said only take one hit to determine the effects. Laboratory analysis determined two chemicals were present, which are considered controlled substances.

Another DEA agent asked the same employee for spice on July 6, 2012. The receipt labeled the drug as a “grocery,” according to the plea agreement. On Jan. 23, another DEA agent attempted to purchase the drug, but Rajput said he did not have any and the officer left. Shortly afterward, a confidential source bought “potpourri,” — code for spice — for $25.

According to an employee questioned after the raid, customers looking to buy spice would ask for “Sam,” an alias for Rajput. Employees were directed by Rajput to sell only to adults and regular customers.

The four Fallon residents were arrested at three stores in town: Town & County Liquor; J’s Best Liquor, 190 W. Williams Ave.; and M K Food, Liquor & Gas, 301 N. Taylor St.

The federal prison guidelines, meanwhile, are a bit muddled. The judge determines whether a Rajput will receive a prison sentence or federal probation.

The judge, however, also takes into consideration a defendants criminal history, pre-sentence report and adjusted offense level, which is a scoring system aiding in the decision of prison or probation.

The federal score of 12 or higher typically mandates a prison sentence, while a score of 12 or lower allows probation as a possibility. Rajput’s score, according to the plea agreement, is 13-17.

Rajput’s attorney, though, is free to argue for a two-level reduction as stipulated in the agreement. Should Rajput’s defense be accepted, his score would be lowered to 11-15.

Christensen’s adjusted level, according to his plea agreement, is 4-8; although if he satisfies the conditions of Acceptance of Responsibility according federal guidelines, his score may be lowered by two levels.