Jim Carlson, owner of Last Place on Earth, arrested, says "The Nazis got me again"
Jim Carlson and a big sack of "incense."
By his own estimation, in 2011, Jim Carlson, owner of the Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth, made $6 million selling synthetic marijuana and stimulants. But those high times have come to a crashing end.
Last summer, Carlson's store was raided by feds. In December, he was charged with 54 violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act. Carlson could spend up to 20 years in prison if convicted of those charges.
Then, last Friday, Carlson was arrested as part of an undercover state investigation into bath salt sales. Today, he was charged with four felonies that could land him behind bars for another year.
Carlson's bail has been set at $480,000. According to the Duluth News Tribune, "The prosecutor said that figure was arrived at because that's how much Carlson -- by his own admission -- makes in gross receipts for the sale of the synthetic drugs each month."
In court today, Carlson, 55, told a judge that his "attorney and everybody tells me what I'm selling is legal," but authorities disagree and have charged him with four counts of fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance. Also charged was Carlson's son, 34-year-old Joseph Gellerman.
As of early this afternoon, Carlson still hadn't posted bail. In court, he lamented the fact that the government has already seized $3 million of his money as part of the federal case for which he'll be going on trial this fall.
According to the Northland NewsCenter, on Friday, "police raided the controversial head shop... and arrested both Carlson and his son Joseph Gellerman for alleged sales of illegal controlled substances [specifically, bath salts] to undercover officers."
As Carlson was being hauled away, he was heard saying, "The Nazis got me again" and "It's legal," the NewsCenter reports.
The Last Place on Earth reportedly remained closed over the weekend while Carlson sat in jail.
The charges come less than a week after the Duluth News Tribune ran a somewhat curious story entitled "Impact of Last Place spreads throughout downtown Duluth" that seemed to blame almost all of downtown Duluth's crime problems on Carlson's store.
In court today, St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said he'll do everything possible to hold Carlson "accountable" for the problems allegedly created by the products he's made so much money selling.
"Our democracy entrusts some of us with the responsibility for your safety," Rubin said. "The young men and women who have been buying and using synthetic drugs are in danger. They are hurting themselves; they are hurting others. Our local emergency rooms cannot keep up. The safety of those who have been buying and using -- and the safety of our community -- are at stake. We will do everything under the law to enforce accountability on those responsible."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.
- UnitedHealth is getting even richer on Obamacare
Sun., Sep. 20, 12:00pm
Sat., Sep. 26, 2:30pm
Sun., Sep. 27, 12:00pm
Sat., Oct. 3, 7:00pm
- The Top 10 T-shirts of the Minnesota State Fair
- Top 5 Hate Mails of the Week: With new & improved fecal insults!