Mississippi councilman pleads guilty in federal court in connection with drug raids of Kratom, vape stores

Published 6:28 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

A Mississippi councilman, who previously pleaded not guilty to four charges after 2023 raids at his Candy Shop & Kratom stores, pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday.

Biloxi Councilman Robert Deming’s admission of guilt is reportedly part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, acknowledging his involvement in conspiring to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute.

In the agreement, prosecutors have proposed a sentencing guideline of 70 to 87 months, with potential post-release supervision, deviating from the standard sentencing guidelines of up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1 million.

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While District Court Judge Taylor McNeel accepted Deming’s change of plea, he deferred his decision on accepting the plea deal’s sentencing terms. A final decision is slated for the sentencing hearing scheduled for August 13, giving Deming the option to retract his guilty plea should the judge not accept the proposed terms.

During the hearing, it was revealed that Deming, who had established Candy Shop & Kratom stores selling CBD, kratom, and vape products in 2019, allegedly purchased synthetic cannabinoids for resale. These substances were purportedly added to CBD vapes and sold in his stores.

In January 2023, law enforcement agencies conducted raids on multiple Candy Shop locations, including Deming’s home, where a significant sum of cash was seized. Deming was subsequently arrested in September 2023 on various charges related to drug distribution and tampering with records.

Deming’s future as Biloxi’s Ward 4 Councilman remains uncertain, as Mississippi state law mandates the removal of any public officer convicted of a felony. However, Deming has not indicated his intentions regarding his council position.