Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 4, 2016
Lincoln County Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Synthetic Drugs
St. Louis, MO – Richard Gross, Winfield, Missouri, pled guilty to multiple counts involving the trafficking of synthetic drugs. He entered his plea before United States District Judge John A. Ross.
According to court documents, Richard Gross and co-defendant Paul Berra manufactured synthetic cannabinoids known on the street as “K 2” and “Incense” and synthetic cathinones known on the street as “Bath Salts.” These products were sold to stores in a number of states. However, their largest customer was Gross’ mother, co-defendant Pam Tabatt, who was the largest retailer of synthetic drugs in Missouri. She sold the synthetic drugs through South 94 Bait and Tackle in St. Charles County and Smoke Sensations, Nights of Rave in St. Louis County.
Gross pled guilty to one felony count each of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption, conspiracy to fraudulently receive and distribute misbranded products in interstate commerce, conspiracy to import controlled substance analogues into the United States and conspiracy to receive, sell and facilitate transportation of smuggled goods. Sentencing has been set for July 12, 2016.
Pamela Tabatt, St. Peters, Missouri, pled guilty to related charges in March. She is scheduled for sentencing June 21, 2016. Paul Berra, Jr., Warrenton, Missouri, entered his plea in January and is schedule for sentencing May 2, 2016.
These charges carry a penalty range of 5 to 20 years in prison for each count and/or fines ranging from $250,000 to $1,000,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges. Additionally, as part of his conviction, he will be required to forfeit assets and property totaling more than $500,000.
This case was investigated by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additional assistance was received from the St. Louis County Police Department, St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri Lake Area Narcotics Enforcement Group, Metropolitan Enforcement Group for Southern Illinois, Southern Illinois Drug Task Force, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, as well as the prosecuting attorney’s offices in St. Louis County, Missouri; St. Charles County, Missouri; Madison County, Illinois; and St. Clair County, Missouri. Assistant United States Attorneys James Delworth and Erin Granger are handling the cases for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.