“But he was cleaning up his life!”

I had to laugh at this report about a British ‘drug’ dealer who wasn’t dealing drugs.

A conman who was found to be selling washing powder as cocaine has ended up in court for fraud.

Jamie Lee Taylor, 27, passed off the household cleaning product as Class A drugs for two months.

His enterprise paid off in the short term as he made “a fair bit of money”, Teesside Crown Court heard.

But he ended up in the dock as he had broken the law, despite never having sold illegal narcotics.

Taylor pleaded guilty to offering to supply cocaine to others between July and September and “possession of an article for use in fraud” – three bags of white powder – on September 5.

. . .

Prosecutor Rachel Masters said: “Essentially, the defendant is purporting to sell drugs in the way that a drug dealer would sell drugs. He’s making a fair bit of money out of it as a result.”

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, said he needed some time to think about the case.

He said he was not sure about passing sentence from guidelines for offences involving real drugs.

There’s more at the link.

I can understand the judge’s dilemma.  If he sentences Mr. Taylor according to the guidelines for drug dealing, but Mr. Taylor hadn’t dealt drugs, he’s likely to win on appeal.  If he sentences him according to the fraud guidelines, what fraud was committed?  After all, no drug dealer sells things called ‘cocaine’ or ‘heroin’ – they use street slang names (at least, all those I’ve met behind bars did so).  That being the case, it’s going to be hard to pin down exactly what was sold compared to what the buyers thought they were getting.  Semantics matter, particularly in courts of law.

(There’s also the fact that sentences are supposed to be a deterrent to crime . . . not a detergent!)



  1. Here is how the Kentucky law on the matter reads:

    218A.350 Prohibited practices concerning substances that simulate controlled
    substances — Penalties.
    (1) No person shall sell or transfer any substance, other than a controlled substance,
    with the representation or upon creation of an impression that the substance which
    is sold or transferred is a controlled substance.
    (2) No person shall possess for sale or transfer any substance designed in any manner,
    including but not limited to design of the item or its container, markings, or color,
    to simulate a controlled substance.

    Find the rest of the statute here: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/statutes/statute.aspx?id=40035

    First offense is a Class A misdemeanor , all subsequent offenses are Class D Felonies.

    I would imagine that most states have similar laws.

  2. This was in the UK. I suspect their drug laws may be rather different then here in the United States.

  3. You wanted to clean up the druggies? He's cleaning up the druggies.

    If they want to hinder the drug trade, the correct move would be to encourage this.

  4. The common law principle at work here is that the law exists for the benefit of lawful society. In this case, the law is being used to police the practices of unlawful society so that criminals and criminal enterprise may benefit. The judge should dismiss the case and say, "not my problem". The state has no interest in preventing criminals from defrauding each other. Similarly, they have no interest in ensuring that games of chance are played according to fair rules in places where games of chance are prohibited. Nor may a drug user sue his provider if his illegal drug is found to be adulterated with other toxic substances.

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