Moiz Tejani being arrested on October 13, 2011 at the Corner Shell gas station west of Livingston.
Pakastani Business Owner Found Guilty of Dealing Fake Weed, Facing Prison Time, LIVINGSTON, November 4, 2014 - A Polk County jury deliberated approximately twelve minutes Tuesday before returning a guilty verdict against 51 year old Moiz Tejani for the First Degree felony offense of Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance. The trial was held in the 411th District Court of Judge Kaycee Jones. According to Polk County Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon who personally prosecuted the case, Tejani, a Pakistani national, was charged in October of 2011 with selling large quantities of synthetic marihuana from the “Corner Shell” convenience store on U.S. Highway 190 West between Livingston and Onalaska.
At trial Polk County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Andy Lowrie testified that the Sheriff’s Department had received information in 2011 that Tejani was distributing “Kush,” “Klimax” and other brands of synthetic marihuana from his business. On August 30, 2011, Lowrie informed Tejani in writing of the Texas Legislature’s passage of Penalty Group 2-A of the Texas Health and Safety Code which prohibited various identified forms of synthetic marihuana from being possessed or sold. Lowrie also informed Tejani at the time of the Sheriff’s Department’s intention to begin enforcing the new law. On October 13, 2011,after receiving information that Tejani was continuing to sell the contraband from his business, Lowrie and other narcotics officers arranged a purchase of a $40 quantity of synthetic marihuana from Tejani through the assistance of an informant. Immediately after the undercover purchase, Lowrie and other officers entered the business and gained consent to search from Tejani. Officers recovered several hundred packages of various brands and quantities of suspected synthetic marihuana concealed behind the counter and in the office portion of the store outside of public view. Lowrie testified that it was Tejani’s practice to only sell the synthetic marihuana himself and for cash. According to Lowrie, Tejani would discreetly package the synthetic marihuana for the customer following the transaction. According to Lowrie, when Tejani was asked if he knew why he was there at the time of the search, Tejani admitted “because you warned me to stop selling.” Following Tejani’s arrest, a portion of the suspected contraband was tested at the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory in Houston and confirmed to be prohibited under Texas law. Twelve packages of “Klimax” were tested and confirmed to constitute the illegal chemical substance “AM-2201,” in the amount of 119 grams–a First Degree felony quantity.
In regard to the abuse of synthetic marihuana, DPS forensic scientist Brian Nacu testified that the substance produced potentially hallucinogenic effects not unlike LSD.
Although Tejani claimed to have been mistaken as to the legality of his possession and sale of the substances based upon out of state laboratory reports furnished to him by his vendor “Ali” in Houston, none of the lab reports in his possession corresponded with the substance recovered in his store and submitted to the lab for analysis. On cross examination by Hon, Tejani admitted that he knew his customers were purchasing the substances to get high.
In closing arguments to the jury, Hon argued that the crime was “very serious due to the manner in which Tejani was distributing the drugs from his business for profit.” Hon implored the jury to “send a message that the commercial sale of these powerful drugs in Polk County would not be tolerated.” Hon added that Tejani “could not rely upon the lab reports he was furnished from his vendor because they did not correspond with the brands he was actually selling.” Hon continued, noting “that the covert way in which Tejani was selling the substances indicated that he knew his actions were illegal.”
After retiring to deliberate, the jury announced within minutes that they had reached a unanimous guilty verdict. Afterward, Hon indicated that he was pleased with the outcome and hoped that other merchants and dealers who were inclined to engage in the sale of synthetic marihuana in Polk County would be discouraged by the jury’s finding. Hon commented that “across the state, law enforcement has been engaged in an ongoing battle against chemists and manufacturers who are attempting to circumvent the law in distributing these powerful and, in some cases, lethal substances.” “To my knowledge, very few of these cases under the new synthetic marihuana law have been prosecuted to trial and I am very pleased a Polk County jury has shown its disapproval of the sale of these drugs,” Hon concluded.
Tejani, having elected to have his punishment assessed by Jones, will return to court on December 3rd for sentencing where he faces a punishment range of five to ninety-nine years or life in prison.
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