CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Iowa City head shop owner was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in federal prison for distributing K2, also known as synthetic marijuana.
Robert C. Sharp, 36, former owner of Pipe Dreamz, pleaded guilty last October to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance AB-Fubinaca, a synthetic drug; one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance; and one count of aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance AB-Fubinaca.
The synthetics were sold under various labels such as Bling Bling Monkey, Super Nova and AK-47 from Pipe Dreamz, which was shut down following a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raid as part of a national crackdown on synthetic drugs.
This was a continuation of Sharp’s sentencing from August because Sharp attempted to withdraw his guilty plea earlier this year, claiming his former lawyer gave him bad advice and that he didn’t know the synthetics contained illegal controlled substances or analogues. A judge denied the withdrawal.
Prosecutors at the August hearing called several witnesses who testified about selling illegal substances for Sharp.
Sharp gave nearly a 30-minute statement Wednesday before U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade. Sharp said he is innocent because he didn’t know the substances were illegal. He said he was “defrauded” by vendors who sold him the illegal products, which he didn’t request.
Sharp also said his lawyer, who he hired to advise him on synthetics to ensure he wouldn’t buy illegal products, lied to him and lied to the court when he testified in this case. He also said nobody was harmed by his products and said he “lacked criminal intent” by comparing himself to a “politician” — presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — who was found without criminal intent regarding a recent email controversy.
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Reade said she wasn’t going to consider the majority of Sharp’s statement because there was no evidence to back it up. She did cite a few things such as his argument that his age would prevent him from breaking the law in the future.
“This was almost laughable,” Reade said. “He’s had three convictions of drug distribution-related offenses. He takes no responsibility and will recidivate. He’s not remorseful, except that he was caught.”
Sharp also mentioned other higher level drug dealers in other states who got less time than he was facing — 60 years, but Reade said she doesn’t know the circumstances or details of those cases. She said she had to sentence him based on this case and his criminal history. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Chatham pointed out during the hearing that Sharp was the leader or organizer of four or five others who sold and helped manufacture the synthetic drugs for him.
“He employed others and made the profits,” Chatham said. “He sells drugs to get people high to earn money.”
Chatham noted the others who worked for him said they knew the products were illegal, so it’s “incredible” to believe Sharp didn’t know.
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