AU school employee involved in date rape drug ring - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

BREAKING

AU school employee involved in date rape drug ring

Stephen Howard. (Source: Auburn.edu) Stephen Howard. (Source: Auburn.edu)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WTVM) – U.S. District Attorney of Middle Alabama George L. Beck Jr. announced during a press conference Tuesday the arrest of an Auburn man following a complaint made on a possible drug ring involving gamma-hydroxybutyrate acid, also known as the date rape drug. 

Stephen K. Howard, 64, an Auburn University employee, was arrested for the distribution of the drugs and will appear in an U.S. District Court at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Howard was arrested on May 22. 

Howard is listed as a chemistry lab technician for the College of Engineering's polymer and fiber engineering department. 

According to court documents, Howard sold an undercover agent 20 ounces of a liquid substance used to incapacitate women. Shortly thereafter, another purchase was made from Howard for nearly a gallon of the same substance. During the second purchase, Howard showed the undercover agent that he had a handgun.

Following these purchases, lab tests confirmed that the liquid was in fact a controlled substance called 1,4-butanediol. When ingested, 1,4-butanediol is converted into the date rape drug.

On May 22, law enforcement executed search warrants at Howard's office on Auburn's campus, and at his home. Howard was arrested the same day.

If convicted, Howard faces up to 20 years in prison for distribution of a controlled substance, and a possible 32 year sentence on charges for possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that the employee was not manufacturing GHB, just the distribution and trafficking.

It is unclear if the drugs were manufactured on campus, but they were sold for $10 an ounce. It is also being investigated whether the drugs left the Auburn area, making it to other campuses. 

The case is being investigated by the Auburn Police Department, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Verne Speirs.

A complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Those who believe they may have been victims of an incident involving the date rape drug are asked to call the Auburn Police Department investigative line at (334)-501-3410. 

More details to come. 

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