Lafayette attorney Daniel Stanford was sentenced Thursday to 10 years and one month in prison on drug and money-laundering charges in a federal investigation of a local smoke shop franchise that sold more than $5 million worth of synthetic marijuana branded as Mr. Miyagi.
Stanford, once regarded as a top-tier criminal defense attorney in the area, was accused of getting a cut of the proceeds in return for advising the Curious Goods stores on how to circumvent the law and for laundering profits.
He was one of two attorneys charged in the investigation.
The other, Barry Domingue, faced similar charges but died after he shot himself in April just as his federal trial was beginning.
Six others charged in the case received prison sentences last year ranging from three to 10 years after pleading guilty.
Stanford fought the charges but was convicted in August after an eight-day trial in which he represented himself.
At his sentencing hearing Thursday, the 57-year-old attorney never clearly admitted wrongdoing, telling U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote that any mistake he made was not intentional and that “my role in this offense had been minimal, minor.”
“This court is troubled by Mr. Stanford’s lack of remorse,” Foote said.
Thomas Guilbeau, a longtime Lafayette criminal defense attorney, took the stand Thursday on Stanford’s behalf, asking Foote for a lenient sentence.
He told the judge that Stanford had been a respected member of the local legal community.
“The reaction to this situation with Daniel was total shock and disbelief,” Guilbeau said. “It’s a tragedy that he is here today.”
Federal prosecutors said Curious Goods stores in Acadiana made more than $5 million peddling synthetic marijuana over a period of just 10 months in 2011 before authorities raided the businesses and shut down sales of Mr. Miyagi.
Among the allegations against the attorneys were that they advised Curious Goods to scrap incriminating advertisements after State Police visited one of the stores, including a radio ad stating “Say nope to dope and word to legal herb” and signs that read “Keep off the grass, get Mr. Miyagi.”
In a written statement, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley said: “This case highlights how lucrative this industry is and the lengths that criminals are willing to go to profit while endangering the health and safety of citizens. Too many members of our community visited these shops that sold this poison, especially the youth. Stanford’s insatiable desire for money drove him to join this conspiracy and put many, many people in harm’s way.”
Stanford’s 121-month sentence was the stiffest handed down in the Curious Goods case.
Richard Joseph Buswell, one of the owners of the Curious Goods franchise, was sentenced to 103 months in prison.
Drew T. Green and Tommy W. Malone, who owned the company that produced the chemical that gave Mr. Miyagi its potency, each were sentenced to 117 months in prison.
Boyd A. Barrow and Joshua Espinoza, who owned a separate company that used the chemical to make the leafy product for sale in the Curious Goods stores, received sentences of 70 months and 61 months, respectively.
Daniel P. Francis was sentenced to 42 months in prison for his role in helping develop a strategy to advertise and market Mr. Miyagi as potpourri when, according to prosecutors, it was clear the intent was to sell the product as a drug.