Trail Delayed For Alleged Burning Man Pill Pusher

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The federal drug trial has been postponed for an Oklahoma man charged with passing out ecstasy pills to attract young women at last year's Burning Man event.

Federal agents say Gordon Todd Skinner, 39, told Bureau of Land Management officials the pills were vitamins.

Skinner's trial in U.S. District Court in Reno was delayed last week until March 16.

A federal grand jury in September indicted Skinner on charges of possessing ecstasy with the intent to distribute it.

Authorities said they found 341 grams of ecstasy powder in Skinner's recreational vehicle in the Black Rock Desert, where the annual Burning Man festival is held over the Labor Day weekend.

"He's the kind of guy that gives Burning Man a bad name," said BLM Special Agent Marc Pirtle, who arrested Skinner in September.

"He had a lot of ecstasy, and he wasn't selling it, he was handing it out like candy. We removed a predator from this event."

While Skinner was in the Washoe County Jail, he was served Sept. 11 with an Oklahoma warrant accusing him of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Tuesday.

In the warrant, Skinner is accused of taking an 18-year-old he believed had slept with his wife to a downtown hotel in July and injecting him with toxic chemicals, according to an affidavit filed Sept. 8 by Tulsa, Okla., police Cpl. Gene Watkins.

The affidavit said Skinner bound the man with duct tape, sexually tortured him, shaved the hair on his body and dumped him in a field in Texas.

Skinner's wife and another man also were charged in connection with the assault on the victim, who survived. Texas City, Texas, police found him in the field and took him to the hospital.

Skinner is being held at the Washoe County Jail without bail.

Last February, Skinner testified for 10 days as a government witness against two California men accused of manufacturing and trafficking LSD out of an underground missile silo he owned in rural Kansas, according to documents from federal court in Kansas.

Special Agent Shirley A. Armstead with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Missouri said Skinner's silo in Wamego, Kan., was the largest LSD lab seizure in the country.

DEA agents in 2000 seized about 91 pounds of LSD and about 52 pounds of its byproduct from the silo.

In October, Leonard Pickard of Mill Valley, Calif., a former University of California, Berkeley drug researcher, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in Kansas federal court, according to Armstead.

Clyde Apperson, of Sunnyvale, Calif., was sentenced to 30 years in prison without parole.


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