SHANNON COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The owner of Camp Zoe pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal drug charges.
James Tebeau, 44, pleaded guilty to one felony count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. He also agreed to forfeit to the United States about 350 acres in Shannon County, Mo. Tebeau appeared before U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. Tuesday morning to enter his plea.
According to the plea and court documents, from 2004 until Oct. 2010, Tebeau managed a campground consisting of about 350 acres known as Camp Zoe. Tebeau used the camp as a location for different weekend music festivals known as "Schwagstock" or "Spookstock" festivals. Those festivals would normally be held from April through October on a monthly basis, and would last for three days. He would arrange for different bands to come to Camp Zoe and Tebeau would also perform with his band, "The Schwag Band." Tebeau advertised these festivals in various publications, and was aware that the term "schwag" was a slang term for low-grade marijuana and he purposely adopted that name for his music festivals and band.
Tebeau charged each person who attended a music festival $60 admission for entrance to Camp Zoe for the three day festival. Each person who paid admission had an armband placed on their wrist by a Camp Zoe employee. The number of people who attended each festival ranged from a low of 3,600 campers during April festivals to a high of nearly 8,000 campers for the May festivals, with an average of 5,000. The campers parked their vehicles in the fields on Camp Zoe and camped in tents and small personal camping trailers.
In August 2006, the Missouri State Highway Patrol arrested two people who had been selling illegal mushrooms at Camp Zoe. During the investigation over the next four years, officers made over 150 undercover purchases of illegal drugs that included: marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, MDMA, opium, moonshine liquor and products such as homemade cookies and cakes containing hashish oil. Officers say they saw 100 to 200 drug sellers at each festival, and estimated that the total amount of illegal drugs sold in the camp during a typical Schwagstock festival was about $500,000 per event.
Tebeau admitted that he was responsible for the operation of the camp. While he did not participate in any drug sales, he admitted that he was aware of the drug use and had told his employees that certain types of drugs were permissible in the campground, like marijuana, LSD and mushrooms, but had told them to kick out anyone who sold crack, cocaine, meth, heroin or nitrous oxide gas. Tebeau did not participate in any drug sales, nor did he receive any money from the sale of any controlled substances.
Because of his plea agreement, Tebeau was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and the agreement allows him to appeal to the District Court's denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment. As part of the agreement, the government conceded that Tebeau did not himself have the intent to sell or use controlled substances but Tebeau admits that he intended Camp Zoe be made available for sellers and users of controlled substances.
The plea agreement must still be approved by the District Court after the pre sentence report has been finished and sentencing has been set for Sept. 4.
This case was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Shannon County Sheriff's Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith D. Sorrell is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.