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Post date: September 5 2012

A.G. Schneiderman Secures Permanent Ban On Sale Of Mislabeled Drugs And Penalty For Owner Of Hudson Valley Head Shop

Owner Of GigglesWorld Corporation To Pay $15,000 For Violating State Labeling Laws

Schneiderman: Creative Labeling Law Approach Gets Swift Results In Removing Dangerous Drugs Off The Shelves

POUGHKEEPSIE — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that a judge has signed a consent order and judgment demanding mislabeled or unlabeled products, including street drug alternatives commonly referred to as "designer drugs," be permanently removed from the store shelves of GigglesWorld Corporation. In addition to the removal of these harmful products, owner Timothy M. Serino must also pay $15,000 in penalties.

As part of Attorney General Schneiderman’s undercover investigation, agents went into GigglesWorld store on Route 9 in Hyde Park and purchased items such as Kratom and Salvia products and nitrous oxide canisters.

"The proliferation of misbranded street drug alternatives has become a crisis in the Hudson Valley, New York State and across the country. The judge's order proves that, by taking a creative approach in using the state's existing labeling laws, we can get swift results and broad relief to remove all classes of dangerous drugs off store shelves and hold sellers accountable for breaking the law," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "We will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to combat the growing and dangerous drug epidemic."

The order and judgment, which permanently bans the sale of any misbranded or unapproved drugs or intoxicants, was signed by the Honorable Robert M. DiBella, Supreme Court, Dutchess County. The order comes after Attorney General Schneiderman's office conducted an undercover investigation into head shops across the state. The investigation revealed that head shop retailers were selling designer drugs, including commonly known synthetics such as "bath salts" and "synthetic marijuana." As demonstrated by GigglesWorld, other dangerous unapproved drugs such as Kratom and Salvia are also being illegally sold over the counter. Undercover investigators statewide also discovered head shop employees were promoting these dangerous drugs and giving tutorials on how to prepare and ingest them.

Under New York State's labeling law, the packaging of consumer commodities must, at a minimum, identify the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor, the common product name, the net quantity of contents, and the net quantity of servings, uses, or applications represented to be present with appropriate directions and warnings for customary use.

On July 10, the Attorney General filed 12 lawsuits against 16 head shop locations, including GigglesWorld. Within 36 hours of filing the lawsuits, the Attorney General's office obtained Temporary Restraining Orders from all 12 judges effectively removing the mislabeled products from the shelves. Monday's order permanently bans the retailer from selling drugs.

Additionally, on August 1, the Attorney General filed a new lawsuit against Tebb's Head Shops for the sale of bath salts and synthetic drugs in violation of the state's labeling laws. Attorney General Schneiderman sued John Tebbetts, III of Rome, NY, who owns and operates a chain of eight head shops located throughout Central and Northern New York, for violating the state's labeling laws by selling designer drugs.

Although Federal and State authorities have attempted to outlaw certain chemicals and their analogs and to remove these items from commerce, their efforts continue to fall short as the chemists and producers providing the products for head shops simply alter formulas and stay ahead of the legislation.  Attorney General Schneiderman also recognized that the problem of mislabeled drugs is much broader than synthetic marijuana or "bath salts" and extends to a wide variety of other street drug alternatives.

The Attorney General's lawsuits also pursue retailers for the illegal sale of nitrous oxide to the public, a specific violation of the State Public Health Law. Commonly known as "Whip Its," nitrous oxide has been linked to several deaths by asphyxiation and other adverse health effects. The gas is typically used by youths who see it as an easy "high."

In addition to GigglesWorld, judges issued temporary and permanent orders removing mislabeled drugs from the following retailers sued by Attorney General Schneiderman:

  • Look Ah Hookah in Rochester (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued July 26)
  • Daze Smoke Shop in Baldwin (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued July 31)
  • Village Sensations in Nanuet (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued August 14)
  • Trip on the Wild Side II in Watertown (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued August 22)
  • Pavilion International in Erie and Suffolk Counties (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued August 29)
  • Goodfellas Alternative Smoke Shop in Utica (Store is no longer operating)
  • East Coast Psychedelics in Oceanside and Commack (Next court  date - September 6)
  • Shining Star Enterprises in Albany (Next court date - September 14)
  • Twisted Headz in Syracuse (Next court date - September 19)
  • Tebb's Head Shops (eight locations) in Central and Northern NY (Next court date - September 27)
  • Rolling Fire Glassworks in Endicott (Next court date - September 28)
  • 20 Below/ This and That in Plattsburgh (Next court date - October 12)

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General G. Nicholas Garin under the supervision of Assistant Attorneys General In-Charge Deanna Nelson and Gary Brown, along with Assistant Attorney General Judith Malkin, and under the overall supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Martin J. Mack.