Businessman Acquitted Of Drug Charges In Fed Court
Grateful Shed Acquitted Of Selling Drug Paraphernalia
As seen in the article by Ted Sullivan, Staff Writer
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
One owner of the Grateful Shed charged with selling illegal drug paraphernalia from his Four Corners store was acquitted Wednesday. Steve Andriakos was acquitted by a U.S. District Court judge in Butte after three days of testimony, defense attorney Chuck Watson said. “It’s been our position all along that that this was a frivolous charge,” Watson said. “The Grateful Shed is a Gallatin County institution. It’s been there for 20 years.” A jury couldn’t reach a verdict against the majority owner of the business, Tom Robinson, Watson said. A federal judge will decide whether or not to retry Robinson on charges of selling illegal drug paraphenalia. In May, the Grateful Shed, The Vault in Missoula, Blue Moon Music in Great Falls and Heads Up Tobacco Accessories in Kalispell were raided by federal drug agents. The Drug Enforcement Administration agents seized pipes, business records, cash and other items. The owners of all four stores were charged with selling illegal drug paraphernalia.
Montana U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer may have been attempting to make a political statement when he targeted the four shops, Watson said. The raids came six months after Montana voters legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Prosecuting a legal business roughly 20 years after it opens “tells me they must not have been doing too much wrong,” Watson said. Andriakos was delighted after his acquittal, Watson said. The judge’s decision allows Andriakos to work as Ozzy Osbourne’s tour manager this summer. “I had to get this guy acquitted to meet Ozzy Osbourne,” said Watson, a longtime Black Sabbath fan who will join Andriakos at a concert in July. In the other cases: Blue Moon’s owner Sue Kerkes pleaded guilty to selling drug paraphernalia at her store. Her sentencing is June 19.
Heads Up’s owner Bradford L. Moore was acquitted of selling drug paraphernalia at his store after a two-day jury trial in U.S. District Court in Missoula on May 31.
The Vault’s owner David Sil was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Missoula after a twoday trial. He was sentenced to house arrest for six months and two years probation.
In a statement regarding Sil’s conviction on June 2, Mercer said,“As we try to protect our communities from the scourge of drugs, we will continue to enforce the laws that Congress has created to help us fight this problem.
“… I am confident that this prosecution will deter others from engaging in the commercial distribution of drug paraphernalia in Montana.”