Pastor pleads guilty in spice operation

Daily Reporter staff reports

INDIANAPOLIS — A central Indiana pastor tied to a 2013 drug bust in New Palestine has admitted to using his congregation as a virtual employment agency for a large synthetic drug operation.

Robert Jaynes Jr., 45, of Irvington Bible Baptist Church in Indianapolis pleaded guilty Tuesday to producing almost 100 tons of synthetic marijuana — much of it at a property in New Palestine — and conspiracy to commit fraud through the mislabeling of the controlled substance. He sold the drugs for $2.6 million, according to his plea agreement, which was filed in federal court in St. Louis, The Associated Press reported.

Under the agreement, prosecutors agreed not to seek a prison sentence of more than 12½ years. Jaynes agreed to forfeit at least $41,000 and more than 800 pounds of “silver colored” coins and bars that, investigators say, were obtained through the illegal drug operation.

Jaynes initially faced a maximum of 25 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine.

On Tuesday, Kirk Parsons — the pastor’s brother-in-law, close friend and a church member — pleaded guilty to the same charges. But the details of his plea were kept under seal. Parsons also is 45.

Investigators said Jaynes and Parsons were among 13 people from multiple states who were arrested in an international drug ring. Jaynes admitted to being at the center of the Indiana operation that produced thousands of pounds of synthetic marijuana for the scheme.

When police raided the New Palestine property in October 2013, they found more than 1,300 pounds of spice, court documents state. In addition, they seized flavoring liquids and bales of dried flowers believed to be used in making the drug. The operation was valued at $3 million.

Several other members of the Bible Baptist Church also face charges for their involvement in the Indiana operation. The charges against some of them, including the wives of Jaynes and Parsons, were deferred after they completed a one-year program.

Jason Woods, a former Hendricks County sheriff’s deputy, was charged in January with six felonies, including bribery, official misconduct and dealing in synthetic drugs. He’s accused of using his position at the sheriff’s office to provide security at the farm where the synthetic marijuana was made and to escort the drug-making operation when it relocated from a farm in New Palestine to an Indianapolis warehouse.

Woods and his wife, Teresa, who also was a sheriff’s deputy, were charged in 2014 with misdemeanor counts of possessing a synthetic drug. Both were fired earlier that year.

Another suspect, David Neal of Carmel, hanged himself Feb. 23 while in a Seattle prison, according to the King County medical examiner.

Jaynes and Parsons were released on bond. Both are scheduled to be sentenced on July 8.