The 10 people accused of conspiring to sell synthetic drugs out of a downtown Bismarck store will be allowed to remain free on their promises to appear in court.
Law enforcement officers began investigating substances being sold at Discontent, 514 E. Main Ave., in January 2012 after seizing packages of synthetic substances in numerous cases, some of which involved medical emergencies brought on by the use of the substances, that had been purchased at the store. Officers seized 10.6 pounds of synthetic drugs, all of which came back as matching illegal substances, from the store in June.
The owner, manager and eight employees of Discontent were charged in December for selling the substances. All 10 made their initial court appearances on Wednesday at the Burleigh County Courthouse.
Thomas Teply, 59, has been charged with Class B felony conspiracy to deliver synthetic cannabinoids, Class C felony conspiracy to deliver drug paraphernalia, Class B felony possession of synthetic cannabinoids with intent to deliver and Class C felony possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to deliver. Teply, of Moorhead, Minn., is the owner of Discontent.
Steven Johnson, 29, has been charged with Class B felony conspiracy to deliver synthetic cannabinoids, Class C felony conspiracy to deliver drug paraphernalia, Class B felony possession of synthetic cannabinoids with intent to deliver, Class C felony possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to deliver, Class B felony delivery of synthetic cannabinoids and Class C felony delivery of drug paraphernalia. Johnson is the manager of the Bismarck Discontent store.
Tyler Bohl, 21, David Heid, 22, Amanda Johnson, 22, Nicholas Kantor, 22, Thomas Palanuk, 28, Edison Sprynczynatyk, 23, Bradley Weigum, 29, and Nathan Wilson, 19, have been charged with Class B felony delivery of synthetic cannabinoids and Class C felony delivery of drug paraphernalia. An affidavit from Bismarck Police Detective Jerry Stein said they were employees of the Bismarck Discontent store.
Surrogate Judge Benny Graff is presiding over the case. All of the judges of the South Central Judicial District disqualified themselves from the case, and the Supreme Court appointed Graff, a retired judge from the district, to handle the matter.
Assistant Attorney General Julie Lawyer requested the 10 defendants remain free on their promises to appear in court, since they showed up at the Tuesday morning hearing after receiving summonses. Lawyer also requested Teply be ordered to remain in North Dakota or Minnesota, where he lives, and Wilson be ordered to remain in North Dakota or Montana, where he now lives. She also suggested defendants who have travel plans to other states or countries be allowed to go on their vacations.
Graff followed Lawyer’s suggestions. He had each defendant stand as he read the charges against them. The hearing was held in the Burleigh County Courthouse’s largest courtroom, but there barely was room for each of the defendants to sit behind the defense table.
All but one of the defendants will be defended through Vogel Law Firm by attorneys Jade Rosenfeldt, James Cailao and Marc Kurzman. Bismarck attorney Tom Dickson is representing Wilson.
Graff scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for March 1. He told the defendants he will be willing to come in on short notice if any of them want to change their pleas in the case.
The North Dakota Board of Pharmacy used an emergency rule in February 2010 to outlaw numerous chemicals being used to make synthetic versions of common street drugs. The 2011 North Dakota Legislature expanded the law, but the state crime laboratory began seeing new chemicals in substances within weeks of the laws being put into effect.
In December, the Board of Pharmacy again expanded the law, and several bills have been introduced at the North Dakota Legislature to stop the use and distribution of such substances.