Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – The owner of a chain of Central New York head shops has pleaded guilty to charges of dealing drugs and laundering money.
Tebb’s owner John Tebbetts III, 33, of the town of Floyd, admitted to the charges in Federal court in Syracuse on Wednesday.
He pleaded guilty to five counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and a sixth charge of money laundering.
The possession counts stem from Tebbetts’ warehouses in Rome and the state of Maine and three stores in Syracuse. He also admitted that he spent $157,000 in drug money on a recreational vehicle.
Prosecutors say Tebbetts should be sentenced to 151 to 190 months in prison on the basis that synthetic drugs are stronger than marijuana.
The defense says the sentence should not be more than 97 months.
Tebbetts' attorney - George Hildebrandt - said that his client is being punished simply for his business acumen.
"Because of his business ability he became quite successful at it and unfortunately attracted a lot of attention to himself so I think there's a tendency to place an undue amount of blame on John Tebbetts that it's solely his," Hildebrandt said.
Oneida Police Chief David Meeker said that the Tebb's bust was a major victory for law enforcement. He said police are now receiving far fewer calls stemming from incidents involving synthetic drugs or bath salts.
"We've reached that goal of making the community safer. We had a lot of bizarre calls when this stuff was on the streets - getting this stuff off was definitely a priority," he said.
He will be sentenced on April 29.
As part of the plea deal, Tebbetts agreed to turn over $314,000, as well as six vehicles - including the RV, a Cadillac, two trucks, an Arctic Cat, and a trailer.