Jon Sloan’s Fight Against the Government to Protect His Business and Rights
Despite having done nothing illegal, Jon Sloan:
…had his business raided by the FDA, Kansas Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement,
…had more than $400,000 in cash and bank seizures,
…had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of inventory seized
…was given multiple “drug taxes” totaling almost $2 million.
Jon Sloan is a 30-year-old Kansas business owner, husband, and father of three. His company, Bouncing Bear Botanicals, sells botanical and herbal products that are legal to own, buy, and sell and are commonly found available for purchase in stores and online throughout the country.
In February 2010 the Bouncing Bear warehouse, located in Oskaloosa, Kansas, was raided by agents from County law enforcement, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Drug Administration. With guns drawn, 24 agents burst in and proceeded to handcuff all the employees in the building, including 80-year-old great-grandparents. Then they began to ransack the entire building. They seized cash, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of inventory, computers and $400,000 in checks and bank balances. (In addition, several thousand dollars in cash “disappeared” during the raid, and was not listed in the inventory of seized items.)
Jon was arrested and put in jail, all the while having no idea what he had done that was illegal. Bond was set at $906,000. (Please remember that number. It will be mentioned again, and your head will spin as to it’s absurdity.) He wasn’t allowed to make a phone call because the prosecutor “didn’t know” what he was going to charge Jon with. It was the following afternoon before the prosecutor decided on the charges, which were for possession or cultivation of several “drugs” that are naturally-occurring in certain plants. i.e. Lysergic Acid Amide because if is naturally occuring in morning glory seeds. Yes, the same morning glory seeds that you can buy at Home Depot, Wal-mart, lawn and garden centers across the country, and thousands of websites including Amazon.com. We have been unable to find any record of anyone ever being arrested before for selling any of the plants found in the raid. The basis for the charges was that the plants and seeds found on the premises of Bouncing Bear contain illegal drugs.
The actual charges were:
Unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances: Dimethlyltryptamine (DMT)
Unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances: Mescaline
Unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances: Lysergic Acid Amide
Unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances: Mescaline
Unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances: Dimethlyltryptamine; Chacruna; Illinois Bundleflower; Epena; Cebil Seeds.
Unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances: Bufotenine, Epena, Chaliponga, Cebil Seeds, Colorado River Toads.
Unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances: Lysergic Acid Amide, Morning Glory Seeds, Rivea Corymbosa.
Unlawful possession of certain drug precursors and drug paraphernalia: Plastic jugs and filters used or intended for unlawful use to manufacture, cultivate, plant propagate, harvest, test, analyze or distribute a controlled substance.
By the end of the day of the raid, all bank accounts, company and personal, were seized including those of Jon’s father and six-year-old son (because Jon was a signer on the accounts). Jon was left with a negative bank balance, making it difficult for him to post bond or hire a lawyer. Jon’s family came to his aid and hired a lawyer who was able to reduce the bond to $150,000, and Jon was released on bond the following day. The condition of his release was that he was not allowed to go to the office or talk to employees, associates or customers. Thus, he was denied the ability to work and run his lawful business.
To understand how the government stole all of Jon’s money, you must know about the “drug tax.” There is a crazy law in many states, including Kansas, that requires people to buy and affix a tax “stamp” to their illegal drugs. The tax stamp is often many times the cost of the actual illegal drugs. If you are caught with (or, in Jon’s case, just suspected of having) illegal drugs and you don’t have the tax stamp affixed to the drugs, you can be assessed the cost of the tax stamp plus a fine of 100% of the value of the stamp. To collect the tax, everything that you own can be confiscated, your bank accounts and all assets seized, and a tax lien placed against you for the balance. That tax lien then gets reported to the credit agencies, making it virtually impossible to have a credit card or get approved for a lease, mortgage, or a car loan (to replace the one they seized), etc. It also makes it impossible to get a bank account, though that is probably a good thing, since the government would just seize any money put in the bank.
The purpose of the drug tax, as stated on Kansas’ drug tax website is to “tax the underground economy.” But the plants Jon is charged with possessing were sold openly and taxes were paid on them when they were sold, like any product sold by any company.
An individual from the Kansas Department of Revenue came to the jail before Jon was released and served him a Notice of Assessment of Tax Upon Marijuana and Controlled Substances stating that he was in the possession of 2270 grams of a controlled substance (mescaline) without drug tax stamps affixed and assessing a drug tax and penalty in the amount of $906,000. The Kansas Department of Revenue issued a Tax Warrant commanding the Sheriff of Johnson County, Kansas to levy upon and sell the real and personal property of Bouncing Bear sufficient to pay $906,000 in unpaid and delinquent taxes, interest and/or penalties, and such other additional penalties, interest, fees and costs as provided by law. Jon’s lawyer found out two months later that a second $906,000 drug tax had been issued against Jon personally although Jon never saw the documents related to this assessment.
But, there was no mescaline in the warehouse. They arrived at the 2270 grams by taking a 5 pound (2270 grams) San Pedro cactus, calling it “mescaline” and taxing him nearly $400.00 for each gram.
Now you can see that the bond is the same amount as the drug tax. But, here is the absurdity of that number: They actually seized 5589 pounds of San Pedro cacti, or 2,537,406 grams. A $400 tax per gram on 2,537,406 grams would be $1,014,962,400.00. That is over $1 billion! Did they really think that posessing San Pedro cactus is posessing a “drug?” If so, why didn’t they give him a $1 billion tax? And if they really thought he was in possession of $1 billion worth of mescaline, why did they let him post a bond at all? One person in north eastern Kansas had a billion dollars of mescaline? Where are all the children overdosing daily? Well, obviously it isn’t happening, and obviously they know that, and knew that, and they know that San Pedro cacti is not the same thing as mescaline.
Remember: San Pedro cactus is not illegal to own, buy or sell. They can be purchased at numerous locations throughout the United States including Amazon.com. Go ahead and click on the link to see the various San Pedro cacti that are available at Amazon.com, which you can purchased today, and plant in your garden.
Imagine the powers of the Kanas Department of Revenue. They can seize all the assets of any Kansan who is growning San Pedro cactus in their backyard. If your grandparents have a beautiful garden with several nice size cacti, the state of Kansas could give them a multi-million dollar tax bill, seize all their assets and put them in jail.
Jon has filed numerous motions to get his assets returned and the tax lien removed. The agency that rules on the motions is the Kansas Department of Revenue, the agency that seized his money and possessions and placed the tax lien against him in the first place. They have attempted to deny every motion, often with the most flimsy of reasons. For example they said he was three days late paying the $275.00 appeal fee, even though they themselves told the attorney that there was no deadline. They want to deny a taxpayer the right to appeal a nearly $2 million tax based on a $275.00 filing fee. .
Jon has spent over $70,000 trying to fight the illegal drugs tax. It will probably be at least another year before any vindication or resolution will be possible and it will likely cost another $100,000 in attorneys’ fees. All the while, Kansas gets to keep his property and his money, and keep him from being able to open a bank account or buy a car.
Two months after the raid, all of the charges against Jon were dropped.* We assumed at the time that the prosecutor, Caleb Stegall–having become aware of the absurbity of the charges — realized that Jon”s arrest had been a mistake. But eight months later, Stegall was promoted to the governor’s special counsel; and on his last day as prosecutor, he re-filed new charges. The new charges are similar to the charges that were dropped. However, there were no charges for “manufacturing” this time, and instead added “conspiracy to cultivate.” Why the new charges were filed when no additional evidence has been found, we don’t know. We can only surmise that charging Jon again allowed Mr. Stegall to look like he is “tough on drugs” while leaving his replacement to deal with the a trial without any evidence. The list of seized items does not include anything that is illegal. Discovery does not reveal any illegal activity. Why would you arrest someone, give them a nearly million dollar bond, place upon them a nearly $2 million drug tax, drop all the charges, and re-arrest and re-charge that person with no new evidence?
This is a grave miscarriage of justice and is destroying the lives of Jon and his family. Not only has this cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, Jon now faces the possibility of going to prison for years if somehow found guilty. This is also a dangerous legal precedent for this country. Drug laws violate constitutional rights in many ways. This is bad enough when the drugs are really illegal. But in this case the “drugs” are just legal plants you can buy anywhere. If this can happen to Jon, no one is safe from terrorist activity perpetrated by our own government.
*Even after the original charges were dropped, the Kansas Department of Revenue still refused to return Jon’s confiscated assets or remove the liens against him.