Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced Monday that Mohammed Akram, 29, of Rochester, pleaded guilty to two counts of misbranding food before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford. The charges carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, who is handling the case, stated that between November 2014 and April 2015, the defendant managed Best in the West, a convenience store located at 670 Jay Street in Rochester.
On April 14, 2015, search warrants were executed at that location and at the apartment above the store, where Akram lived. Officers recovered $67,847 in United States currency and approximately 1,900 packets of suspected synthetic cannabinoids.
The defendant traveled to New York City to purchase and transport bulk quantities of 3-5 ounce packages containing green vegetable matter to Rochester. The packages were labeled “G-20,” “Bizarro,” “Mardi Gras,” “G10 Potporri,” “Mr. Happy,” “WTF,” “VooDoo,” “Remarkable Herbs,” “MR SIN,” “Scooby Snax,” and “Mad Hatter.” The green vegetable matter was laced with chemicals that were not authorized by law for human consumption. The defendant, who claimed the packages were potpourri, offered the various packages of green vegetable matter for retail sale in the convenience store knowing that customers intended to ingest the green vegetable matter.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of James J. Hunt, New York, New York Field Division, and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Richard Allen.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 29, 2017, before Judge Wolford.