Cooperator sentenced in Dragon’s Den bath salts case
Published: August 22, 2012
When two customers purchased about 20 grams of “Speedy” for $675 at the Dragon’s Den Smoke Shop in Fells Point last December, the guy who sold it to them, Carlo D’Addario, told them that some people smoke the substance, while others snort it. Turns out, there’s another way to use “Speedy,” a brand name for the recently outlawed class of chemicals known as bath salts: intravenous injection.
The customers were part of an undercover operation, and D’Addario was indicted in federal court in February, accused of supplying bath salts to distributors in Virginia, including to Holly Renae Sprouse, his co-defendant in the case (“Undercover in the Dragon’s Den,” Mobtown Beat, May 30).
“Sprouse reports she used [bath salts] intravenously two to three times a day until her arrest in October of 2011,” court documents state.
Sprouse, who has a prior state drug conviction for which she served two years in prison in the mid-2000s, pleaded guilty in May to one drug-conspiracy count. On Aug. 14, U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski sentenced her to 20 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. She had faced a maximum sentence of 20 years, though federal sentencing guidelines recommended a range of 37 to 46 months of incarceration. Sprouse’s lenient sentence was due, in part, to assistant U.S. attorney Ronald Huber’s motion recognizing her “substantial assistance” in prosecuting D’Addario.
Dealing with Sprouse appears to have been an adventure for investigators in the case, court records show. Her initial bath salts arrest, in Aug. 2011, resulted from a raid on her home in Craigsville, Va., near Shenandoah National Park, that turned up “numerous bags” of bath salts, along with “receipts and money orders from her supplier in Baltimore,” according to court records. She was charged in state court with numerous crimes—drug-dealing, obstruction of justice, and escape—and released on bail. On the afternoon of Oct. 28, she was arrested again—but did not go easily.
“As I was walking back to Holly,” an Augusta County Sheriff’s officer wrote in a report about the incident, “I noticed that she had slipped out of one of the [hand]cuffs. She took off running. She ran across the interstate in front of moving traffic. Several cars and a tractor trailer almost hit the deputies in pursuit.”
A portion of the report was made part of the record in the federal case against Sprouse, but it doesn’t indicate the interstate where the arrest took place. It does, however, state that “Holly made it across the interstate and median,” that officers tried unsuccessfully to Taser her, and that, when they finally were able to trip her, “her head and body fell just short of west bound traffic.” She “fought the officers on the ground,” but they were able to “gain control after a struggle.” Traffic was “shut down . . . causing quite a backup.”
After her first arrest, Sprouse had provided information about her Baltimore supplier, but it was after her second arrest that Sprouse began to “cooperate with law enforcement,” according to court records. The search warrant used to justify March 1 law-enforcement raids on the Dragon’s Den and D’Addario’s home on Pot Spring Road in Timonium describes a cooperator, dubbed “CW1” (confidential witness 1), whose circumstances match up with those of Sprouse.
CW1, the warrant explains, “purchased approximately forty packages of ‘White Horse’ bath salts” and “several packages of ‘Jack Rabbit’ bath salts” from D’Addario at his home last summer, as well as “packages of White Horse, Incredible Hulk, and Speedy Gonzales ‘bath salts’ from D’Addario at Dragon’s Den.”
The two-day jury trial in the case was initially scheduled for May 8, but was reset for June 28-29 after Sprouse pleaded guilty. It has since been rescheduled again, with D’Addario set to go before jurors starting on Oct. 22.
Sprouse’s attorney, Frederick Heblich, argued strenuously in court filings that his client should be sentenced to time served since her arrest last fall. He detailed her troubled personal history, including untreated mental-health problems and having had four children by four different men. She gave birth to one of them while in prison, and another was taken from her after she visited a hospital emergency room due to a reaction to bath salts she’d taken. Heblich wrote that Sprouse was introduced to abusing and dealing drugs by family members, including her father, an imprisoned methamphetamine dealer.
“One would think,” Heblich argued, “the most important factor in a case such as this would be to bring the attention of the public, in general, and potential abusers, in particular, that although [bath salts] are advertised as being legal, or at least in some gray area between legal and prohibited, they are in fact illegal—not to mention dangers—to possess or distribute.”
> Email Van Smith