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Former Duluth head shop owner files for a new trial

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Three people convicted in a synthetic drug case in northeastern Minnesota have filed for a new trial. Attorneys for Jim Carlson, the owner of the Last Place on Earth in Duluth, have filed a motion for a new trial because of alleged errors made by Judge David S. Doty during the three-week trial.

On Oct. 7th Carlson, his son Joseph Gellerman and girlfriend Lava Haugen were found guilty of multiple counts relating to synthetic drugs.

Carlson was convicted on 51 of 55 counts that were filed against him. Those charges included conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, distribution of a controlled substance, and money laundering. Haugen was convicted on four counts, and Gellerman convicted on two.

KBJR reports that in a 40 page document, Carlson's attorneys say a new trial is warranted because of "erroneous instructions to the jury" concerning comparisons between the chemical structure of the alleged analogue drugs and the chemical structure of controlled substances.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that Carlson's attorneys also say he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to "present a full and complete defense to criminal charges" because of rulings that limited defense evidence.

During the trial, Doty denied repeated attempts by the defense to present evidence, including public statements made by government officials. Carlson's attorneys say that evidence would support defendants' claims that they believed the products they were selling were legal.

Carlson attorney, Randall Tigue said, "The preclusion of this evidence through other witnesses and documents, as well as through Carlson himself, led to an unjust verdict."

Gellerman and his attorney also filed a separate motion for either acquittal or a new trial. Gellerman's motion claims that he was the victim of government entrapment, and that the evidence does not show he had any knowledge of product misbranding.

Carlson was taken into custody shortly after the verdicts were read. He remains in the Sherburne County Jail. Haugen and Gellerman are free on previous bonds. No sentencing date has been set yet.

If they are unsuccessful, defense attorneys told the Duluth News Tribune that they would appeal the convictions to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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