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Watertown man sues Tebb’s Headshop for selling dangerous drugs

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A Watertown man has filed suit against the owner of Tebb’s Headshop, claiming he suffered serious health problems after consuming synthetic drugs purchased at the defunct retailer.

Tyler M. Snyder filed the state Supreme Court action Friday at the Jefferson County clerk’s office against John E. Tebbetts III, Rome, claiming Mr. Tebbetts knew or should have known he was peddling dangerous merchandise, but did not warn consumers of the risks.

According to the complaint, Mr. Snyder purchased a designer drug known as “Molly’s Mosquito” on Feb. 16, 2012, at the store at 144 Eastern Blvd. Mr. Snyder claims that after ingesting the product, he experienced acute respiratory failure, cardiac dysfunction, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary edema, fever, cardiogenic shock, coma, acute kidney failure and dehydration.

“It is unconscionable and outrageous that the defendant would risk the lives of consumers,” he said in the suit.

Mr. Tebbetts operated nine head shops across the state. The Watertown location was raided in July 2012 by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents as part of a statewide sweep related to the alleged sale of synthetic drugs. The state attorney general’s office brought action against Mr. Tebbetts and owners of 15 other head shops across the state in August 2012, saying the businesses were selling mislabeled products, such as bath salts and window cleaner, which were actually synthetic drugs.

Mr. Tebbetts, who is in jail in Albany County, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, and is awaiting sentencing on a charge that he possessed controlled substances with the intent to distribute them. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and potentially more than $5 million in fines. He was fined nearly $200,000 in March by Supreme Court Judge James P. McClusky for selling mislabeled products as a result of the attorney general’s investigation.

Mr. Snyder’s suit does not specify an amount being sought in damages. He is represented by attorney David B. Satisky, New York City.

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