The Agony And The Ecstasy

Until his arrest, Sandy Pofahl was the king of Dallas' '80s ecstacy scene. Then why did he serve only four years while his "blindly loyal" wife, Amy, was sentenced to 24? Because she asked for it.

German officials initially insisted that their investigation into Imhausen turned up no support of the U.S. allegations against Gadhafi, but they agreed to another investigation. "That," Key says, "is how we got caught."

Der Kommissar

Sometime in 1987, Key and Pofahl decided to penetrate the European market, in part because their production yield in Guatemala was slowing but also because Pofahl and Key were growing increasingly nervous about the extent of their illegal operations in the United States. Eventually, they hoped to stop selling the drug here altogether.

John Anderson
Sandy Pofahl's quirky charm won him Amy Ralston's love. Pictured here in the late 1980s, the Pofahls lived the high life in Dallas until the Germans busted him for dealing ecstasy in 1989, and U.S. law enforcement officials turned their sights on her. In the end, he concluded that the truth was the fastest route to freedom, while she embraced political maneuvering.
Sandy Pofahl's quirky charm won him Amy Ralston's love. Pictured here in the late 1980s, the Pofahls lived the high life in Dallas until the Germans busted him for dealing ecstasy in 1989, and U.S. law enforcement officials turned their sights on her. In the end, he concluded that the truth was the fastest route to freedom, while she embraced political maneuvering.

Pofahl thought that Amsterdam would be a great place to relocate the entire business, from production to sales, but Key says he talked him out of it. Instead, Key convinced him to expand their production efforts at Imhausen, which until then had simply been selling Key raw materials.

In the meantime, Pofahl started to build a new distribution network in the Netherlands and Great Britain. The work proved to be far more exciting than his old attempts to develop real estate in Dallas. On October 31, 1988, for example, Pofahl slipped into the Netherlands under the cover of darkness and stored 1.3 million tablets in the cellar of a florist shop called "Nicole." The drugs were supposed to be delivered to the owners of three Amsterdam coffeehouses.

Three months later, the German national police showed up at Imhausen. In addition to transactions pertaining to Libya, company officials handed over all of their production records involving Key and Pofahl. During the meeting, company officials told the police that Pofahl was expected to visit the company in two weeks. On February 16, 1989, Pofahl showed up as scheduled and the police arrested him on charges of violating the country's Narcotics Act. Back in the states, Key was arrested in New York and extradited to Germany.

In subsequent months, German officials seized Pofahl's bank accounts and coordinated an international effort, which, thanks to Imhausen's impeccably kept records, netted tens of thousands of unsold pills stowed away in Guatemala, Germany, and the Netherlands. Dutch police described one find--at the Amsterdam florist shop where Pofahl had made his nighttime deposit--as the single biggest amphetamine seizure in the country's history.

With Pofahl and Key behind bars, U.S. law enforcement officials became intent on uncovering the full extent of the conspiracy in the United States in order to bring convictions against all of its participants. Naturally, the task would be much easier if Pofahl and Key, the conspiracy kingpins, started to squawk. The officials, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Strauss of San Antonio, promised to go light on Pofahl and Key back in the states if they agreed to name names and give up their proceeds. From their new perspectives behind bars, Pofahl and Key ultimately determined that it was in their best interests to cooperate.

"Let me tell ya, jail has a way of making you change a lot of things," Key says. "You learn really quickly to decide whether that's the place you want to come back to, and I didn't want to come back to it. And it wasn't just that. I just did a lot of soul-searching and decided that I would like to be able to live a different kind of life when I got out."

In April 1989, Key signed a four-page affidavit in which he outlined his involvement in the case. Pofahl had a similar epiphany.

"Everybody needed to decide what they wanted to do," Pofahl says. "I was wrong, and I needed to be truthful about what I did. Charlie Strauss and [IRS agent] Gary Gallman came over in the middle of '89, and we had a long conversation. I said I was wrong in what I did, and I was truthful in what I said."

During a series of meetings held at the city jail in Offenberg, Germany, Pofahl laid out the intricate details of the organization. Besides his own actions, Pofahl identified everyone he ever dealt with, from the manufacturers to the dealers. He also told U.S. investigators how to find in Dallas the numerous safety boxes and locked vaults he had rented, which contained hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and unsold pills.

In November 1990, Pofahl and Key appeared in a German criminal court for trial. The proceedings lasted 10 days, during which both men were found guilty of manufacturing drugs in violation of German federal law. On December 18, 1990, Pofahl was sentenced to six years and three months in prison, while Key got a six-year sentence.

At sentencing, the German court, which viewed ecstasy as "less dangerous than alcohol," took into consideration two key elements with regard to Pofahl. One was his confession. A second was Strauss' information that although he could face life imprisonment in the United States, he would probably be sentenced to probation--as long as his continued cooperation as an informant and witness helped them land additional convictions.

By that point in 1990, one of the people Strauss wanted to nail was Amy Ralston.

I'll Tumble 4 Ya

By the time Pofahl was arrested, he and Amy Ralston had unofficially separated. Ralston had moved to Los Angeles, where she was dating other men and promoting parties at an exclusive club that was popular with celebrities.

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