November 24, 2014

Elyria
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Owners of Twilight Boutique facing federal drug, laundering charges

 

The closed Twilight Boutique on Abbe Road in Elyria is shown on Thursday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

The closed Twilight Boutique on Abbe Road in Elyria is shown on Thursday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

A Grafton Township couple has been indicted on federal conspiracy, drug and money laundering charges for allegedly running a chain of head shops that sold synthetic marijuana across the state.

Sean and Sherry Lightner, both 38, allegedly purchased and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the illegal substances with names like “Bizzaro,” “Hammer Head Blueberry” and “Devil Inside” through their Twilight Boutique stores in Elyria, Grafton, Brunswick and Athens. The Elyria store was closed Thursday.

“These defendants sold a product that was designed to mimic an illegal drug,” U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach said in a news release announcing the charges. “No matter what it is labeled or whatever clever name it was given, it was illegal.”

According to the indictment, the stores, including a Lakewood location that was franchised to Dale Drummond, also sold drug paraphernalia such as bongs, pipes and rolling papers. Drummond also faces charges in the case for allegedly selling synthetic marijuana.

The success of the business allowed the Lightners to quickly expand from three locations to 11 in a short amount of time, according to court documents.

The closed Twilight Boutique on Abbe Road in Elyria is shown on Thursday.

The closed Twilight Boutique on Abbe Road in Elyria is shown on Thursday.

Sean Lightner also was operating another company, Aurora Pipe and Glass in Valley View, to provide drug paraphernalia, including glass bongs, to his stores, the investigation determined.

In order to cover up that synthetic marijuana was illegal and meant for recreational use, the substances were often described as “potpourri” and labeled “not for human consumption,” the indictment said.

The Lightners also allegedly took other steps to hide what they were selling, including instructing employees to keep the price list for the synthetic marijuana out of public view and not to sell the drugs and paraphernalia in the same transaction.

That was done in “an effort to conceal that the synthetic cannabinoids were meant for human consumption and to thwart law enforcement,” the indictment said.

The Lightners also allegedly showed employees and others laboratory reports that indicated that the synthetic drugs weren’t illegal, the news release said.

Prosecutors wrote that a person, identified only as “Source 1” in court papers, referred the Lightners to a variety of suppliers from whom they bought synthetic drugs.

Two of the alleged suppliers, Mark Picard of Whittier, Calif., and Nathan Albright of Glendale, Ariz., also face drug and money laundering charges in the case.

After purchasing the drugs, the Lightners allegedly marked them up by about 300 percent before selling them to the public.

With their illicit proceeds, the indictment said, the Lightners purchased numerous vehicles, including a 2005 Dodge Magnum, a 2013 Dodge Journey and a 2013 Dodge Ram 350. Prosecutors want the couple to forfeit ownership of those vehicles.

They also bought a boat and a trailer, showed the investigation, which was run by multiple agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Lorain County Drug Task Force and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.

Most of those purchases were made with cash or cashier’s checks, according to prosecutors.

The indictment said the Lightners bought their Neff Road home in Grafton Township, which prosecutors want them to forfeit, with $242,834 in cashier’s checks in August 2012.

In addition to the house and cars, prosecutors also want the Lightners to forfeit more than $225,000 in cash seized as part of the investigation.

Calls to attorneys for the Lightners were not returned Thursday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.


  • Joseph Kimble

    Filling the void since ’99.

  • Bonnie Pickett

    Crime. apparently paid very well for a time. Greed and the thought that they would never be caught probably made them expand. Now some attorney will benefit from their efforts. I hope that the government agencies involved get some money out of the home and vehicles that were seized.

    • Steven Censored

      Why would you hope government programs and agents get any of that money? Our taxes already pay them.

      They did nothing illegal, they sold potpourri.

      Mean while a heroin epidemic is sweeping across the state with overdose numbers exploding and killing our youth.

      These crooked law enforcement officials are wasting our tax dollars on VICTIMLESS crimes!!

      And sheep like you are eating it up because you have no clue as to what is really going on.

      They never cared about the substance THIS WAS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!!

      By the way I don’t smoke anything!

      • Robin Hood

        You should be their attorney. No, for real. Or their accountant, so you could tell them that money laundering is illegal, and that when the feds start investigating their potpourri sales, that they need to start buying this secret oregano seasoning instead.

      • anonymous

        They participate in illegal activity there is more involved that chances are people will never know about they knew things that they were doing were illegal and continued to do even more illegal things they make me sick and should be punished for their crimes

        • Anne

          Nothing has ever been proven illegal. No one has been issued a guilty verdict, because after repeated arrests, and dropped charges, have not had a trial…let alone a fair one.
          Taxes are paid on sales. Products sold are continuously tested to ensure not a single illegal ingredient. Products have Warning labels. Such as Gasoline cans, which are often misused, abused by consumers.

          • anonymous

            They were indicted on money laundering last I checked that is illegal and yes they have had no trial and the charges have never been completely dropped they just let it go so they could build an even bigger case I know what im talking about not to mention the illegal activities they didnt get caught doing and trying to set people up to take the fall for them such as trying to hire their family and have people sell to children that they knew were underage

          • Anne

            Lol… wow. Unless product is proven to hold illegal substance, which they do not. Taxes are paid on sales…where is money laundering?
            If the prduct wasn’t upcharged as much would this be a big deal at all?
            If the product is such a poison why would they leave i behind in certain raids?
            Taking only legal store money, tax and payroll with profits.

          • anonymous

            So taxes were paid from illegal sales? These people may not be the brightest but they would not pay taxes on things they did illegally and if they weren’t doing anything illegal why have they been watched for a few years and who are you the mother of this person that is also doing illegal things and is involved in all this it probably you carol sticking up for your “poor baby” that did this to himself

    • Anne

      They have repeatedly arrested and released the accused, never to offer a fair trial. This poorly written article is not the true story. The product is assumed to be a drug, yet never proven..and contains no illegal components..per lab reports.
      The government is and has been getting the tax money on these sales, they dont seem to mind or give it up to the poor. They get the extra money they take in on Numerous raids, while costing taxpayers money on the Case in general. Money coming in all over, much more profitable than catching Kidnappers, Child predators.
      Read more below in comments if you want more facts. If not, enjoy tbe oblivion of modern tabloid media. There are not many good reporters left who are honest and willing to their homework, research for facts…tell the Whole story.

      • anonymous

        The reports that they showed were not real the substances were tested and proven that it was an illegal substance

        • Anne

          And this is what authorities say? Because they never lie.
          Ofcourse they lie, to get people to turn on them..but the truth is the truth…Reports are made by credible labs.
          Why woud they need more evidence to convict? If its as simple as false reports and illegal substance?
          Because somebody is raking money and commish from this raids, not to mention the continious revenue for the state, country.
          It’s probably not the officers doing the grunt work, but their corporate counterparts.
          Eyes wide shut.

  • Adam Hunsucker

    Of course they are incited into selling a product for 300% profit….. that is too inciting to pass up. if they would just legalize weed there would not be a market for weed substitutes…… lets stick to the stuff that’s been enjoyed safely for thousands of years,

  • Robin Hood
    • Brandon Delph

      What exactly does that have to do with anything they were selling?

      • Robin Hood

        Lots of suicides have been linked to this drug.

        • Anne

          Lots of suicides are linked to legal prescription drugs, (meant for ingesting)
          as well as other heart attacks and deaths.
          Product Not for consumption. If someone dies huffing gasoline, should the gas station be accountable? Pray for lost souls, Their depression was present before abuse of product. Depression needs to be treated as other illness.

          • karenwilliamsfoley

            If it’s causing all these problems, why not just stop selling it? Because of the money. It’s all about greed.

  • Robin Hood

    I almost worked for them once, so glad I declined. If I’d caught wind of what was going on, I’d have robbed them blind, and then turned them in.

  • anonymous

    That money that was taken needs to go to his kid that he has not seen in about 14 years and never paid a penny child support on

    • Anne

      It’s hard see a child when mother is awol with child upon visitation appointments. Are you the “wonderful” mother who would not let the father see his son? Now you just want the money. Typical.
      How do You do know if funds were not set aside for Him?
      You don”t.

      • anonymous

        No I am not the childs mother but I know the “funds” were never set aside for the child and when you know where you can find the childs family but dont try and have the means to try and people that can make it happen but don’t take advantage of that what kind of person is that. and who are you to question me I know a lot more about this situation then what is in this article

  • im heartless, so be it

    crazy fools…

  • Don Grantzki

    So does the fake stuff offer up a buzz? Or, does the crime lie in the production and selling of it when it doesn’t?

    • Kelly Campbell

      it does offer a buzz stronger then that of the real stuff but short lived it also smells like rotting flesh not sure why anyone would want to smoke it but my sisters ex paid hundreds of dollars of her money for it here in the Mansfield ohio store

    • Zen Grouch

      You can legally buy Salvia in smoke shops in California, but I don’t know about Ohio.

      It offers intense and vivid hallucinations and a total disconnect from reality that lasts about 5 or 10 minutes. Best part is 20 minutes after you smoke it, you’re as sober as a judge and there are no hangover effects… other than maybe being a little frightened of what you saw if you got introspective.

      • Robin Hood

        That’s not totally true Zen. It depends how much poison is in the batch you buy. You could buy one packet and get a little buzz, buy another packet and be gone, and I mean gone for a couple of days. I smoked some once by accident. Someone had it rolled in a blunt and thought it would be funny to trick us and smoked it with the group I was with. needlessly to say, I was completely stupid for 3 days afterword. I didn’t think it was ever going to wear off. When the FDA or state makes one brand of “Spice” illegal, the companies change a few ingredients, change the name of the product, manufacture it under a different company name, and it goes back into circulation. That’s where the new “potpourri” scam came from. Same dealers, same chemist, different company name and product name, similar packaging. And it causes alot of people to do bad things i.e. suicide, violent behavior, and more.

        • Zen Grouch

          Sounds like you smoked spice or bath salts which are a dangerous and unregulated combination of lord knows what, that can mess you up… and not in a good way.

          Salvia, or “salvia divinorum,” is a single herb that’s still in use by Mazatec shamans in their ancient rituals and legally sold in some U.S. states.

          Now, I’m not saying the experience of smoking Sylvia will never end up being a hellish nightmare. But that’s more due to the fact that losing all bonds with reality can push people with certain emotional balances over the edge.

          The stuff is intense as you can see if you Google Salvia on YouTube. You should never open your eyes, much less stand up the first time you smoke this powerful herb.

          • Robin Hood

            No, it wasn’t bath salts or salvia. Nice try. It was synthetic marijuana a.k.a. spice, a.k.a. pot pourri, that I smoked.

          • Zen Grouch

            “Nice try?!”

            I was talking about salvia, and salvia ONLY when you responded with your input on other substances.

            I’m not trying to do anything at this point other than try and understand what in the heck your point is. And I’m pretty much losing interest in that.

        • jm

          you are so right that stuff is terrible people are having strokes and have seizures. a little girl just died from smoking that because it was sold to her under age

          • jm

            she was13

  • Anne

    Brad, you are an awful journalist. The facts are not all here. You didn’t mention that taxes have paid, and taken on all of these purchases. Where is laundering?
    You didn’t mention, that these people have been previously raided, arrested and charges dropped. more than once…and as of yet, hasn’t had a fair trial.
    Nothing has been returned, no one found guilty while law enforcement a free to come and take whatever they want. They pressure the banks to close their legal accunts, without giving a reason. Then they know they have to have moneys at home. It is not a crime to keep cash.
    During the major black out you couldn’t buy anything without cash.
    You were very hasty to write an article that belongs in tabloid.
    Legal earnings are taken repeatedly in numerous/raids and never returned.
    Why would they drop charges if there was truly illegal activity?
    It should be open and closed case.
    So they can go back and take more money ofcourse. The taxes paid on these purchases go straight to government, never forced to give back. That helps pay the salary of our dear civil servants, who are just doing their job.
    Im sure they would rather be finding child predators, serial killers, or real drug dealers… not chasing salesman of pricey incense.
    This clearly about the money, it a can be easily taken, and not returned without an
    proof. About trying to harrass and “legally” steal from a legal business.
    Is gasoline meant to be ingested or huffed? No, but people do it.
    I wouldn’t pay 40 for plastic container, nor a name brand candle, or any other aromatherapy but people do. To each his own.
    The lab reports are made per product to ensure every ingredient is legal.

    I law enforcement knows of any kegal loophole, they chose to leave it

    • Robin Hood

      No more excuses, no more loop holes in the system, no more selling synthetic marijuana a.k.a. smokable LSD. How’s that, pretty cut and dry, and easier to understand ? So, they’ve been raided once, and, obviously, didn’t learn their lesson. Where is your proof that, “They pressure the banks to close their legal accunts, without giving a reason.” I mean, who told you that ? Get that banker and subpoena them to go on public record stating that. You specifically state, “…these people have been previously raided, arrested and charges dropped. more than once…and as of yet, hasn’t ( sic)had a Fair Trial!” Um, the charges were dropped yes ? You’re right, it wasn’t a fair trail. You claim that, “Nothing has been returned, no one found guilty while law enforcement a (sic) free to come and take whatever they want…whenever they want.” I’d like you to prove that or give more details please. You’ve written, ” Any smart person would invest in silver and gold and keep it close..with this economy…how will you get your money if it all crashes.
      During the major black out you couldn’t buy anything without cash.
      You were very hasty to write an article that belongs in tabloid.” Do you think this country is going to be invaded soon or something ? Moving on you write, “Legal earnings are taken repeatedly in numerous/raids and never returned.
      Why would they drop charges if there was truly illegal activity?
      It should be open and closed case.” They’re drug dealers ma’am. That, “I didn’t know”, excuse worked the first time, not this time.

      • jm

        thankyou for telling that retard what is up im working with the dea to take down skinny jacks as well