Dumb & Dumber

If they'd sold drugs on a street corner, punishment would have been swift. Instead, they used the Internet -- and the party lasted for years.

Cassandra's orders for BD quickly escalated. "I think the first time was maybe one drum, and then a couple of drums," Seidel recalls. "And then she went to three drums a month." Doses of BD are measured with eyedroppers.

JLM sold Cassandra at least twenty drums, charging $6.35 for each empty pail, $9.20 in labor for filling each pail, $2.80 per pail for delivery and $84.20 per pail for the BD itself, according to police, who reported that Cassandra paid the company $24,160 before finding another source. Sometimes Cassandra would pick up the pails in her 1990 Mercury Sable. "I personally, on occasion, took pails to her house in Festus in my station wagon because she was always so anxious to get it," Seidel says.

After seven months, Cassandra learned that she could get BD directly from Vopak. According to DEA records, JLM was charging her $926.20 per drum, which didn't include charges for the pails or filling and delivering them. Vopak charged $625 for a 55-gallon drum, so she cut out the middleman. Cassandra charged her customers $240 per gallon or $675 for five gallons -- not including shipping and handling. A pint cost $45.

The Harveys used the developmentally disabled at WAC Industries to package their product.
Jennifer Silverberg
The Harveys used the developmentally disabled at WAC Industries to package their product.

Cassandra began buying from Vopak in January 2001. Vopak didn't break the chemical down into pails. Neither did the Harveys. That job was left to the developmentally disabled at WAC Industries, a sheltered workshop at 8520 Mackenzie Road in South St. Louis County .

It's unclear how the Harveys forged a deal with WAC. Dee Froneyberger, WAC director, didn't want to talk about Miracle Cleaning Products, but she says the workshop doesn't handle anything that isn't safe and that WAC doesn't knowingly assist drug traffickers. "We don't want any part of it," she says. "We're not chemists."

Shortly before their arrests, Joshua told his mother she should have let WAC take care of shipping the BD so it couldn't be traced to her and none would be in her house. The cops would never raid a sheltered workshop, he reasoned. "We tried to set that up," he reminded her. "They had a UPS shipping station there. You thought they were retarded and would fuck up your orders. You just always wanted to do it yourself. It was your baby."

The folks at WAC were busy enough. Over the course of fourteen months, Vopak -- which has changed its name to Univar USA -- sent 79 barrels to the sheltered workshop. The company cut Cassandra off in March 2002, forcing her to find a new supplier.

Mohamed Rizk, director of regulatory affairs for Univar USA, says company drivers are trained to spot signs of improper use of chemicals, but WAC wasn't set up to accommodate large commercial trucks, so deliveries were made by other companies. Staffing changes also hindered Univar's efforts to ensure proper use, he says. Univar won't ship to residential areas, and as soon as a sales representative spoke with Cassandra and learned that the BD ended up in her basement, the company terminated her account, he says.

At least one chemical company was suspicious when the Harveys went hunting for a new source. A sales representative for Superior Solvents and Chemicals on Chouteau Avenue called police after Cassandra asked about buying BD in May 2002. The salesman who alerted police did not return several calls.

Archway Sales apparently wasn't alarmed. The chemical-distribution company on Manchester Road became Miracle Cleaning Products' new source after Vopak refused to do business with her, according to DEA records. It's not clear just how much Archway supplied, but a DEA agent spotted more than one drum with the Archway label during an undercover visit to WAC in May 2002. Archway did not return two messages.

Chemisphere on Clifton Avenue was also a supplier. "We're very interested in earning or winning your business," Chemisphere salesman Michael Klote told Cassandra in an August telephone call. Cassandra told her son that she'd already purchased twenty barrels of BD from the company. Klote did not return a call.

The Harveys registered Miracle Cleaning Products as a business with the Missouri secretary of state's office in April 1999, listing Cassandra and Joshua as co-owners. Five months later, they filed incorporation papers. They opened a checking account in the name of Miracle Cleaning Products, and they hired a bookkeeper.

Business boomed.

UPS records show that Miracle Cleaning Products filled at least 1,750 orders in 2001 alone, generating shipping bills of $62,829. UPS's main competitor took notice: Cassandra told Joshua that Federal Express had asked her to become a client. The Harveys had 441 customers in 41 states and eight foreign countries, some of whom paid with checks or money orders. In 2001, PayPal, an online-money-transfer service, transferred more than $277,000 to Miracle Cleaning Products. Some customers conducted business by telephone.

The Harveys were cavalier in their handling of a substance that was coveted by so many people. They left unattended packages for UPS pickup on Cassandra's front porch, with pickups taking place as often as three times a day, six days a week.

Nobody did anything about it.

Seidel, the retired JLM manager, says he would never have sold to Cassandra if he'd known the BD was being used as a drug.

When he opened the account, Seidel says, he checked with Vopak and was told that BD was an innocuous substance. Seidel says he thinks he called the DEA about Miracle Cleaning Products, but he can't remember for sure.

« Previous Page
Next Page »