OLATHE, Kan. -- Tracy Picanso has jail bragging rights most inmates could do without, she has the highest bond in Johnson County. The 57-year-old Olathe woman is being held on a $2,000,000 cash-only bond or a $5,000,000 surety bond, where a bondsman would have to post 10-percent or $500,000. Picanso faces five new counts related to possession and distribution of synthetic drugs, plus she faces a charge of intimidating a witness.
According to the criminal complaint the witnesses Picanso is accused of intimidating are Christopher Freemeyer and Mary Freemeyer. Picanso's attorney John Benge confirms that Christopher Freemeyer was an employee of Picanso's at her Olathe business, "Retailing Specialists." Freemeyer himself sits in the New Century Jail in Gardner on three counts related to possession and distribution of synthetic drugs. He was arrested October 17th and is being held on a $1,000,000 bond.
Law enforcement sources told FOX 4 that Picanso is suspected of supplying area convenience stores with synthetic drugs like K-2 or Bath Salts, which mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine. Picanso and her live-in boyfriend, 55-year-old Roy Ehrett, already face similar charges from 2011.
In that case, Lenexa police raided a warehouse that detectives say contained more than a $100,000 worth of synthetic drugs. Picanso and Ehrett are schedule to go trial for that case in March of 2014.
Prosecutors now contend that Picanso simply moved her operation to Olathe under the name "Retailing Specialists." Picanso's attorney John Benge told FOX 4 that "Retailing Specialists" provides drinks and other products to convenience stores. But law enforcement sources told FOX 4 the company is accused of providing synthetic drugs, sold over the counter as packets of incense.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said his office wasn't happy to learn that agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency arrested Picanso for continuing her alleged criminal enterprise while she was awaiting trial on prior charges.
"That is clearly one of the factors that we talked to the judge about and why we asked for the bond that we did," said Howe.
Howe told FOX 4 he now considers synthetic drugs, like K2, more dangerous than meth.
"Because we know the effects of meth, we know what it does to the human body. In these (synthetic drugs) I think it's much more dangerous because you don't know what you're going to get, each and every package could be different."
John Benge told a judge at Picanso's first court appearance that he considers his client's bond to be "absurd." He noted that her bond for the 2011 case was just $10,000. He asked her new bond to be lowered to $25,000 or $50,000. The judge declined.