Schwag Case Tests Liability

Further details have emerged in a federal drug case against James Tebeau, a member of the popular Missouri Grateful Dead tribute band The Schwag, and his Camp Zoe where he’s organized music festivals for several years.

Tebeau was charged June 16 by the U.S. Attorney’s office in St. Louis with one felony count of operating premises for the facilitation of illegal drug use. The office also filed a civil complaint last fall seeking the forfeiture of money derived from the campground’s operation and civil penalties.

The office alleged in the complaint that “over the past several years, law enforcement agents have specifically observed the open sales of cocaine, marijuana, LSD (acid), ecstasy, psilocybin mushrooms, opium and marijuana-laced food products by individuals attending the music festival and made multiple undercover purchases of illegal drugs.”

The complaint added that Tebeau and other Camp Zoe staffers were “in the immediate area” when deals were going down and “took no immediate action to prevent the activity.” Undercover officers allegedly made more than 100 drug purchases during the investigation.

Prosecutors contend that while Tebeau may have promoted Camp Zoe as a concert venue, it was, in fact, “knowingly opened, rented, leased, used or maintained for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing or using controlled substances.”

And if they can prove it, the feds will be free to seize the property and all monies from associated bank accounts. The site is reportedly worth $600,000.

An attorney for Tebeau argued the case could set a troubling legal precedent for festival promoters and others in the entertainment world.

“Is there any concert promoter in America that would be completely free of the knowledge that there might be drugs being used at his event?” intellectual property and entertainment attorney Emmett McAuliffe told ABC News.

The civil action against Tebeau is being held pending the criminal case.