Alaska case first federal prosecution involving a methylone death

zhollander@adn.comNovember 27, 2013 

Debbie Hurd and Dan Scott hold a portrait of their late son, Matthew Scott, on Tuesday, November 26, 2013, in Meadow Lakes. Matthew Scott was found dead of a drug overdose in an Anchorage apartment in April of 2012. Robin Gattis, son of Wasilla legislator Lynn Gattis, is scheduled to be sentenced on federal drug charges in December. Gattis distributed methylone to Scott, and allegedly fled the apartment instead of calling 911. Scott's parents plan to attend the sentencing.

ERIK HILL — Anchorage Daily News Buy Photo

WASILLA -- Robin Gattis, confessed drug dealer and son of a Wasilla state legislator, supplied 20-year-old Matt Scott with methylone in April 2012 and then did nothing to help after Scott overdosed and died, according to documents filed by prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Anchorage this week.

The documents also indicate that state Rep. Lynn Gattis knew about her son's drug dealing, Scott's death and her son's involvement but told him to get a lawyer and keep quiet, a claim state Rep. Lynn Gattis denied in an interview Thursday.

Scott, a psychology student at the University of Alaska Anchorage, was the first person in Alaska to die from the designer ecstasy drug more commonly called bath salts or "Molly" and imported from China for use at clubs, concerts and parties.

The case against Gattis is apparently the first federal prosecution in the country involving a methylone death, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bradley.

Gattis pleaded guilty in August to a charge of drug conspiracy, admitting he imported methylone and also gave it to Scott. In exchange, he was promised a maximum sentence of 20 years.

The sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday by Bradley and another prosecutor requests a 20-year prison sentence and $1 million fine for what they call a "callous and heinous crime that spread drugs throughout the community and resulted in the death of a young man."

Gattis' defense attorney, Scott Dattan, had yet to file his sentencing document by mid-afternoon Wednesday, but Bradley said he expected one to be filed this week.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline will decide Gattis' sentence at a hearing next Thursday.

Scott's parents, Dan Scott and Debbie Hurd, plan to confront Gattis for the first time there.

Both say they don't blame Gattis for their son's "reckless" choice to take drugs but they'll never forgive him for leaving their son to die.

"I hope he can look at us and say he's sorry," Hurd said on Tuesday. "That's all I can get from him now."

OVERDOSE AT PARTY

The overdose occurred during a three-day party at Scott's Anchorage condo that started Friday, April 13. The day before, Gattis, Scott and Scott's roommate picked up 150 grams of the drug at the Wasilla Carrs grocery parking lot and put the powder into several hundred capsules during a "capping party" at a Wasilla residence, the sentencing memo states. Then they drove to Scott's apartment in Anchorage.

The memo lays out what happened next:

Gattis posted something on Facebook about Scott's condition during the party: "the molly was a little stronger than usual but he took like 30 (and) his knees started turning purple from the lack of circulation which is a sign of mild overdose." Other people at the party also said it looked like Scott was taking a lot of pills over the three-day party.

Scott texted Gattis at 7:12 a.m. Sunday asking "Can you bring me twob [sic] more we need to talk." He sent another message at 8:20 a.m. saying "Two last ones...Pleasde [sic]."

Scott then got messages from two people besides Gattis, one asking about his knees and the other asking what happened to his leg.

Scott sent no more messages.

A roommate saw him the morning of April 15 with a heating pad on his knees, ready to pass out from drugs. Another person saw Gattis leave Scott's room around 9 p.m. Sunday night and heard him say, "Don't bother Matt, (he's) just sleeping."

The next morning, that person said Gattis left the condo, walked to a gas station, came back for 20 minutes and then left again. Then he called a drug customer.

"On Monday, April 16, Gattis called [the customer] and said that he thought Matt Scott was dead," the memo states. Gattis told [him] to check on Scott, because he couldn't get caught with the drugs.

The person whom Gattis called and a friend found Scott dead, face down, on his bed in his room, the memo states. One of them gave a pill to the police.

'NOT AWARE'

Investigators discovered methylone crammed down a sink in the condo, the document says.

Gattis learned from one of the friends that Scott was dead.

"Hoping I don't catch a murder charge if I'm implicated since I was there," Gattis wrote in a Facebook message to a friend, the memo says. The next day, asked if he was staying with his parents, Gattis replied, "nah my parents have been coming at me blaming me for killing Matt and trying to get (me) to treatment," the memo says.

In an April 16 text message, Gattis told a friend, "My mom advised me not to tell anybody anything until I talk to a lawyer so please don't tell the cops anything I told you."

Reached by phone Wednesday, Lynn Gattis said she "was not aware of that conversation."

Rep. Gattis said she and her husband, Rick, didn't know the details of her son's activities during the time of the overdose and said her son hasn't lived at home since he was 17.

"We were not aware of what was going on," she said.

The federal sentencing memo also indicates that Gattis told his mother in emails that he was a drug dealer back in 2011. One, from December 2011, said, "I'm a drug dealer, probly [sic] one of the biggest in alaska for a time, but I don't want to live like this anymore, the DEA has increased funding by a boatload ...I've circulated 75% of the party drugs throughout almost every town in alaska in the last 4 months, every rave, every party...."

His father responded, according to the prosecutors' memo, that Robin had made "a multitude of poor choices" and was "on a deadly spiral downward." The father "offered love and support, including help with drug abuse treatment," the memo says. Robin responded by calling his father names, the memo says.

Then a candidate for state office, Lynn Gattis sent an email to Robin and his brother in January 2012 warning them that "operatives" were looking for dirt on her, the memo states. "She warned her sons to 'keep ur fb pages scrubbed and don't say things via email or text or what might be recorded.' "

Rep. Gattis, asked about that comment, called it her response after friends and campaign staff noticed her sons had inappropriate material on their personal Facebook pages.

"My children weren't political. I had not run for political office before," she said. "That was a response to that, kids putting things on their personal Facebook. Even though they are young and feel they should be free, people look at that and hold it against me."

PRIVILEGED LIFE

Robin Gattis started stockpiling methylone starting in late 2011 after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency published its intention to make the drug illegal, prosecutors say.

Gattis was out on bail for state felony drug charges when Scott died.

State prosecutors in February 2012 filed multiple felony drug charges against Gattis after intercepting a shipment of methylone, but dropped the charges in May 2012 after tests revealed chemicals in those particular drugs were legal under state law at the time.

Robin Gattis continued buying and selling methylone within less than a month of Scott's death, prosecutors say. He was arrested on the federal drug charges in July 2012.

Gattis also sold drugs while facing assault charges for beating his father, prosecutors say. He was convicted of assault in 2011.

Unlike many offenders, prosecutors said in the memo, Gattis has led a "privileged life" but repeatedly rejected offers of support from his parents during his drug dealing.

"Robin Gattis appears to be a sociopath who simply cannot be deterred," the memo states.

Six co-defendents with Gattis have also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their involvement in the case. Five have yet to be sentenced and face up to 20 years of imprisonment. One, Bren Marx, was sentenced in April to five years of probation for his role in an intercepted drug shipment in February 2012.

Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or 257-4317.

 

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