CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A local wholesaler of herbal and aromatherapy products says authorities in Stoddard County had no right to seize these products from several businesses on July 14 without what he calls "valid warrant or authority".
Rodger Seratt of Fairdealing filed a lawsuit at the federal courthouse in Cape Girardeau Monday against Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russell Oliver and Sheriff Carl Hefner.
Seratt owns Wildwood Botanicals and says one of his clients lost $6,000 worth of merchandise in the Stoddard County seizure.
In the suit, Seratt claims the prosecutor and sheriff violated his constitutional rights to "lawfully engage in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of products known as "bath salts" and "incense"."
In the suit, Seratt calls the sale of these products "a matter of free enterprise and a matter of free speech and expression".
Seratt, who's acting as his own attorney, calls Oliver's and Hefner's actions "a sneak attack raid" to "advance a political agenda".
Seratt is seeking $6000 in actual damages, $1 million in compensatory damages, and $10 million in punitive damages.
Prosecuting Attorney Russell Oliver released a written response to the suit Tuesday afternoon.
It reads in part, "Mr. Seratt and his contemporaries can couch their argument in terms of freedom all they want, you and I know this is about one thing, money."
Seratt says he is doing an honest business, and discovered the business was a way to make quick money. "This appeared to be a way to make a lot of money fast that was legal," said Seratt.
His business makes substances like Sierra Select Herbal Incense and White Tusk Bath Salts.
"There was a much larger demand than supply for that product and a big mark up, and as a business man that looks like a business opportunity," said Seratt.
But Seratt says they are not for consumption. He says they are intended for specific use like incense, or to make a bubble bath.
"I'm not happy that my car pollutes the ozone, but I still drive it and burn gasoline everyday...and it's legal," said Seratt.
He says it's the same thing with the incense and bath salts. He does not agree with the misuse of the substances.
KFVS Reporter Christy Millweard asked Seratt, "If you weren't happy you know the way people were using this, and that it is getting misused sometimes, why continue with it?"
"For the money," said Seratt.
He says the company makes between $35,000 and $40,000 a month in sales.
"This one requires a little more legal effort than cause we have to constantly monitor all the laws in all jurisdictions were dealing in, but other than that its just like running any other business," said Seratt.
Even though the lake making the substances illegal doesn't go into effect until August 28th, after a raid in Stoddard County last week, Seratt says he moved the business to an undisclosed location, where he says it's not illegal.
So what was once a business, is not just a residence, where Seratt lives.