OSWEGO, NY — Brian Colombo, owner of Xtreme Underground in Oswego, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in Oswego City Court on Tuesday.
Columbo was facing four counts of Pharmaceutical Mislabeling from August of 2012.
In August 2013, he was charged and pleaded not guilty that September. The charges stem from the 2012 raid where Oswego Police were looking for misbranded drugs – synthetic drugs.
On Tuesday, he was fined $1,000 and assessed a $200 court surchrage. He was also given a one-year conditional discharge (stay out of trouble for 12 months).
By accepting the plea deal, he avoided going to trial and the possibility of a harsher sentence.
A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. So, potentially he could have been looking at, maximum, two years in local jail and $2,000 fine.
“He’s just basically relieved to get this over with,” his lawyer said following court. “The one thing that I know he is very eager to get corrected is in the past there’s been reporting that he sold bath salts at that time. At no time did he ever sell any bath salts. He was never charged with selling bath salts. My client is just happy to get the matter resolved instead of dragging it out any further.”
For one Oswego mother, this is the closure of one chapter in her life.
Teresa Woolson is suing Colombo and Xtreme Underground. The store sold her son synthetic drugs before his death in 2012, she told Oswego County Today outside court Tuesday.
If it had gone to trial, there would have been more media coverage and more information getting out to help save lives, she said.
“But now, we don’t have to go through that. He admitted guilt,” she said.
While she would have liked to see him receive some jail time, “I didn’t think he’d ever get jail time. I wanted it continually over his head, continued publicity to help save lives,” she explained.
“But, he admitted guilt. So, the criminal part is over,” she said, adding that she’d contact her attorney to see what the next step will be.
Her lawsuit names Brian Columbo personally, Xtreme Underground, and John Doe 1 and 2 (being the manufacturer and distributor of the product, Avalanche).
Victor O. Woolson, 19, drowned in Lake Ontario on Aug. 9, 2012, while swimming with a group of friends. His friends told her and the police that he’d purchased a synthetic drug, “Avalanche,” from the Xtreme Underground in Oswego, his mother said.
“He used the (synthetic marijuana) to get high just before he drowned,” she said. “The bust was just days after my son died.”
The Woolson family has created the non-profit The Victor Orlando Woolson Foundation, Inc., to help fight against the spread of synthetic drugs.
Synthetic basically means it is manmade, she explained, adding that designer drugs are specifically a category of drugs that are designed to bypass the law.
Manufacturers of the substances were able to legally sell the product by continually changing its formula; as soon as one was banned, they altered it slightly – in essence creating an entirely new product.
And, in some cases, just by adding warnings like “Not For Human Consumption” to the package allowed them to be sold over the counter.
To report synthetic drug abuse, sale, manufacturing, distribution or possession, call 1-888-99-SALTS (1-888-997-2587).
To reach the Upstate New York Poison Center, call 1-800-222-1222.
For more information on Woolson’s foundation, visit www.vow-foundation.org