Feds can seize head shop owner money at sentencing

Published 3:16pm Saturday, December 7, 2013

DULUTH — A judge will allow the federal government to seize a Duluth head shop owner’s money and property once he’s sentenced for selling synthetic drugs.

U.S. District Judge David Doty signed the order Thursday in the case of Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson.

Prosecutors had sent a letter to Doty saying Carlson was trying from his jail cell to turn titles to property in Mexico over to his girlfriend, Lava Haugen, to avoid forfeiture.

Carlson is awaiting sentencing on 51 felony counts. No sentencing date has been set.

A motion was filed just after Carlson was found guilty in October to have money and property seized. The order signed by Doty would make the seizure effective upon sentencing.

Acting U.S. Attorney John Marti cited recorded jailhouse phone calls Carlson placed to Haugen late last month. In the letter to Doty sent Wednesday, Marti asked the judge to act on an order of forfeiture to prevent Carlson from transferring land and title to a Cozumel, Mexico, home to Haugen. It cited recorded phone calls in which Carlson talks of moving the property into her name and granting her power of attorney over assets connected to the shop.

Carlson’s attorney, Randall Tigue, said Friday that he will seek relief on the forfeiture order in appeals court.

“They’re taking everything he owns away,” Tigue said.

He said the delay in sentencing has been caused by a search for all of Carlson’s assets.

“He has no more assets,” Tigue said. “So there’s no reason to delay.”

On Thursday, Tigue told the newspaper that it would be “nonsense” to think Carlson could move any assets around while in jail.

The forfeiture order includes two properties that Carlson owns in Cozumel. Court records show he purchased land in a place called Villa Alegria 13 years ago and built a five-bedroom home. The other property is five acres of land Carlson bought in 2005, the motion states.

Last week, Doty denied a motion to release Carlson before his sentencing.