Bath salts gang in Muncie appears in court
Ramesh Kumar, 30
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - More of the Singh gang accused of selling bath salts and other synthetic drugs appeared in court Tuesday, some still looking for legal counsel and a reduction of huge cash bonds designed to keep them from leaving the country.
Ramesh Kumar, 30, told Delaware Circuit Court 5 Judge Thomas Cannon Jr that he had no job or little money, and wanted the court to reduce his $20,000 cash bond. He is accused of felony money laundering and dealing drugs out of the BP convenience store at 1630 N. Wheeling Ave. A confidential informant bought a packet of powder labeled as Ivory Wave from Kumar on Sept. 30,2011.
Chief Trial Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman pointed out that Kumar was not a United States citizen, saying the federal government had not yet replied to the state's request on Kumar's status.
Cannon agreed to set a hearing next month on a bond reduction and also address Kumar's lack of legal counsel after the defendant remained in jail for the past week.
Four other defendants, including Phulbir Singh, 27, held on a $1 million cash bond, were arraigned Tuesday and given trial dates for later this fall. Kumar, along with Harwinder Singh, 20, and Kalmasch Singh, 20, both who had no legal counsel, got hearings next month to make sure they had representation.
Phulbir Singh, also a foreign national, faces multiple counts of drug dealing besides corrupt business influence, money laundering and maintaining a common nuisance. His attorney, defense lawyer Kelley Bryan, declined to say whether he would seek a bond reduction.
Defense attorney Jake Dunnuck did express concerns about the high cash bond of $50,000 on his client, Harpreet Singh, 25, who was a U.S. citizen, and planned to seek a hearing to reduce it.
Hoffman said the group was an extreme flight risk, given most were not citizens. Local and state police spent the last six months gathering evidence and making buys to crack down on the bath salt sales and other synthetic drugs for marijuana, amphetamines and barbiturates. Two other defendants, Manpreet and Hardeep Singh, bonded out of custody and also await trial.
More than 60 law enforcement officers shut down a group of BP and Marathon convenience stores last week and seized records, computers, electronic devices, cars, weapons and other property as part of the investigation.
All those convenience stores have reopened, including the BP on Wheeling, although Marathon gas pumps and signs at other stores have been bagged and are no longer in service.