Duo indicted in Alabaster illegal mushroom sting

Published 11:18 am Friday, June 9, 2017


By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – A pair of suspects nabbed in an August 2016 drug bust in Alabaster have been indicted on multiple felony charges, while charges against three other suspects are still pending.

A Shelby County grand jury in May returned a seven-count indictment against 29-year-old Bessemer resident Walter Clarence Stewart IV, upholding one felony count of trafficking marijuana, four felony counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, one felony count of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Trafficking marijuana is a Class A felony, and is punishable by up to life in prison upon conviction, according to Alabama law. Unlawful distribution of a controlled substance is a Class B felony, and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison upon conviction, according to Alabama law.

A grand jury in February returned a three-count indictment against 23-year-old Alabaster resident Thomas William Anderson, upholding felony counts of trafficking marijuana and possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Anderson has entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to the crimes.

On Aug. 11, 2016, Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force investigators executed a search warrant on a residence in the 200 block of Fran Drive in Alabaster. While at the residence, investigators discovered “an elaborate laboratory used to harvest psychedelic mushrooms and prepare them for sale,” according to Task Force Commander Lt. Clay Hammac.

“During the search of the residence, nearly 44 pounds of psychedelic mushrooms containing psilocybin were seized, along with more than 4 pounds of high-grade marijuana, multiple firearms and more than $25,000 in cash,” Hammac wrote in a release at the time of the arrests.

Hammac said Task Force investigators allegedly determined the marijuana seized at the house was purchased from Colorado, California and Oregon.

In addition to Anderson and Stewart, Task Force members also apprehended 31-year-old James Michael Hipp, 36-year-old Behn M. Wartenburg and 20-year-old Gabrielle Elyce Gunn. As of June 9, Hipp, Wartenburg and Gunn had not been indicted on any charges.