Three U.P. residents sentenced on bath salts convictions

MARQUETTE – Three Upper Peninsula residents have been sentenced to federal prison on charges related to the distribution of powerful “bath salts” for human consumption.

Those sent to prison included two Ontonagon County men and one Baraga County woman.

The U.S. attorney’s office said the case involved distribution of alpha-pyrrolidinopentiphenone, which is commonly known as alpha-PVP, and pentylone.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Allan Edgar sentenced Scott Bernard Will, 56, of Mass City to serve 11.5 years in federal prison. Derrick John Guzek, 34, of Mass City was sentenced to 16 months and Kristen Ellen Bergeron, 31, of Pelkie was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison.

A federal jury in Marquette found Will guilty of distributing and conspiring to distribute alpha-PVP and pentylone in Baraga and Houghton counties.

U.S. attorneys said evidence presented at trial showed Will began selling bath salts in the Marquette area in 2011. He was jailed for those activities from June 2011 until November 2012.

Attorneys said Will went back to selling the substances once he was released from jail. His sales of the substances in Baraga and Houghton counties in early 2013 drew the attention of the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

U.S. attorneys said an undercover officer made a number of purchases of the “bath salts” from Will and co-conspirators Guzek and Bergeron in March and April 2013. Guzek and Bergeron pleaded guilty and testified for the government against Will.

Will went to trial in December. Government attorneys presented testimony from users who said the bath salts sold to them by Will were extremely powerful and addictive. Attorneys said the users reported staying up for days after injecting the substances and experiencing psychosis, paranoia and suicidal thoughts.

Edgar said the users were “physically wrecked by these drugs.”

Attorneys said evidence at trial showed Will specifically targeted people with drug problems by offering the substances for free. Once the user was hooked, Will charged up to $200 per gram, attorneys said.

The term “bath salts” refers to a group of substances containing synthetic cathinones that all have similar chemical properties. Attorneys said the substances have a powerful amphetamine-like effect on the central nervous system when consumed.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.