A judge has ordered a D.C. business closed for a year after police and the D.C. Attorney General's Office repeatedly warned the owner to stop selling synthetic drugs.
A former D.C. police officer is the owner of this business.
The D.C. attorney general believes the owner, William Early, was taking in $5,000 a day selling synthetic drugs at his Bloomingdale shop.
This corner business doesn't look like much at 2nd Street and Florida Avenue in Northwest. But for outraged neighbors and police, it has been a synthetic drug market for over a year.
“I was a foot patrolman and I enjoyed the job,” Early said to us. “To tell you the truth, I think it’s a damn good job.”
But his second career of owning this bill payment shop has angered authorities. Photos taken by police show all kinds of synthetic drugs for sale at the business -- from Bizarro to Scooby Snax. A table full of the synthetic drug was all seized from the store.
When police couldn't get Early to stop selling, they called D.C.’s Attorney General's Office.
“We've warned this guy, we've been back to this store numerous times, but he's still selling,” said Assistant Attorney General Argatonia Weatherington.
She convinced a judge to shut down Early's business, but six months later, police called again.
“I mailed Mr. Early notice in August and he called me back and said, ‘I’m never going to sell synthetic drugs again. It's all gone,’” said Weatherington. “And of course, that wasn't true.”
On Wednesday, Early welcomed us into his store. He said at first, he didn't know selling the drugs was wrong.
“When I initially started it off, I was told that it was legal,” he said. “They were doing it in Chinatown openly. And I said, ‘Hey, this is something to make a couple extra bucks. So what? It's legal.’”
Early claims after a judge shut him down the first time, he told us he never sold them again.
But when we asked him if anyone working for him was still selling the drugs, he replied, “Now, I’m not going to go that route.”
D.C.’s attorney general said this case should serve as a warning. More businesses like this could soon take the fall.
“Right now, I can tell you that we’ve got dozens of investigations underway, and literally seven lawyers from the neighborhood victims services unit are focused on this,” said D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.
Early claims he is broke. With no way now to earn a living, he worries he is taking the fall unfairly.
“I think the penalty was just a little bit more than it should have been,” he said.
The business was still open on Wednesday, but it will be closed next month on August 10 and police will monitor it to make sure it doesn't open.