Judge rules on civil case by Jake’s Fireworks owners against U.S. attorneys

Published 12:18 am Sunday, October 22, 2023

A federal judge dismissed a civil lawsuit brought on by the owners of Jake’s Fireworks against the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.

The lawsuit claimed investigators used fabricated evidence against Jake Daughtry and others to convict him of leading a national drug operation out of his Nederland business.

In late 2022, a federal judge found Daughtry guilty of drug distribution and money laundering charges and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. An appeals court upheld the ruling in August.

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In a civil suit filed by Daughtry and other family members, he alleged members of the U.S. Attorney’s and detectives trampled his rights by using falsified documents to obtain an indictment against him and nearly a dozen others who worked at Jake’s Fireworks.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies investigated the Daughtrys’ businesses for distributing a chemical called 1,4-butanediol (BDO), which can be used illicitly as a substitute for the date rape drug GHB.

In July 2020, federal agents raided the business and arrested Jake Daughtry and other employees.

The investigation spanned more than three years and resulted in indictments against the Daughtrys. While charges were dropped against almost all of the other defendants, Jake and Joseph, his father, pleaded guilty to charges connected to the case.

His cousin, Kip Daughtry, received a 46-month (three years and 10 months) sentence for his role in the operation.

In October 2021, the Daughtrys filed a motion to see a transcript of grand jury proceedings that led to their indictment. In a civil case against the Daughtrys by the U.S. government, emails were presented to show the Nederland family saw a Safety Data Sheet attached to an email from Silver Fern Chemicals, which was where Jake purchased the BDO.

The chemical is legal to sell, but companies sometimes require purchasers to fill out a form, detailing how it would be used.

The Daughtrys’ attorneys said a Safety Data Sheet was added to the emails after the fact to either enhance the prosecutors’ case against the Daughtrys or cover Silver Fern. The emails were presented in the civil case to shut down the Daughtrys’ business and is the reason the case was ultimately dismissed on the condition the family could not sell BDO anymore.

Five days after the Daughtry’s defense team filed the motion, the U.S. Attorney’s Office assigned Christopher Rapp as lead prosecutor on the case.

Michelle Englade, who previously held the position, retired.

However, a federal judge said the emails were never used to obtain the indictment for the criminal charges.

Despite three amended complaints in the Daughtrys’ civil case against prosecutors, the judge ruled Jake and family did not prove wrongdoing by the government.

There is still an ongoing civil case by the Daughtrys against Silver Fern.