Fragrance Hut owner remains in jail pending federal synthetic drug trial

Judge cites probable cause, history of offenses

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man accused of distributing synthetic drugs from the Fragrance Hut will remain in custody pending a federal trial based on probable cause and his long history of criminal offenses.

Matthew McCauley, 39, was charged two weeks ago with one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. He is accused of storing and distributing synthetic cannabinoids for the purpose of human consumption from the business at 2902 First Ave NE, from February through March, according to the criminal complaint.

According to testimony at Tuesday’s detention hearing, McCauley told a pretrial services officer that he sold the Fragrance Hut about three months ago to his friend Anthony “Brice,” which a prosecutor contends is Anthony Rice, a man stopped for a traffic violation in March. Police said they found 63 packets of synthetic marijuana in Rice’s car. At that time, Rice told officers his boss, McCauley, told him to take the items home in case the business was burglarized.

The traffic stop led to undercover officers purchasing two packets of synthetic drugs from the Fragrance Hut, according to the complaint. The next day, officers responded to a motel regarding a disturbance call where McCauley was staying.

Police found a fraudulent driver’s license and $1,245 in cash on McCauley, according to the complaint. He told police he owned the Fragrance Hut and officers said they found multiple packages of synthetic drugs, prescription pill bottles with two plastic bags of methamphetamine, and 47 oxycodone and 17 hydrocodone pills in McCauley’s bag.

U.S. Magistrate Jon Scoles said in Tuesday’s order there is probable cause that McCauley committed the serious drug offense. Based on McCauley’s past record of violating probation, providing false identification and his lengthy criminal history, which includes gaining new charges while other charges are pending, he will be detained.

According to the detention order, McCauley admitted to being an alcoholic but hasn’t drank this past year and he admitted to smoking marijuana since he was a “child.” He also said in the past he was a “heavy user” of cocaine and “sporadically” used methamphetamine for several years.

McCauley has a lengthy criminal history including thefts, assaults, trespassing, burglary, possession of controlled substances, unlawful possession of a prescription drug, domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury and interference with official acts, according to the detention order. He has failed to appear in court and violated probation more than once.

McCauley has three cases pending in Linn County District Court for seven counts of forgery Jan. 9, another forgery charge Feb. 27, and June 4 was charged with first-degree theft, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, domestic abuse assault — second offense, unlawful possession of a prescription drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. He also has an outstanding warrant from Minnesota.

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