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Poppy Seed Tea King to Forfeit Mansion After Overdose Death

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Cape Ciradeau County Jail
Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Cape Ciradeau County Jail

When a Shorewood, Wisconsin resident was found dead from an overdose on May 18, 2021, the medical examiner found morphine, codeine, and thebaine in the person’s system and determined the cause of death was acute morphine intoxication.

The OD came about, according to the medical examiner, after the deceased had “consumed [a] very large amount of poppy seed tea,” according to previously unreported court filings.

Cops didn’t have to look far for a culprit. Five days earlier, the late tea drinker had allegedly received a package of unprocessed poppy seeds, delivered by UPS, from an Antony Graziano in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Investigators subpoenaed records from UPS and Stamps.com, which they claim showed that Graziano was a major supplier of the seeds throughout the U.S., hawking his wares on two now-defunct websites, www.fireseedbakerysupply.com and www.qualityingredientsus.com.

Graziano was arrested last June, and remains detained pending trial. In a statement to The Daily Beast, his attorney did not comment on details of the case but said: “We plan to protect his interests.”

Unwashed poppy seeds are legal to buy and possess, but run afoul of the law when turned into tea, which the Drug Enforcement Administration considers a Schedule II controlled substance. Poppy seed tea has been responsible for at least a dozen U.S. deaths to date, according to the DEA. It also earned the 31-year-old Graziano more than $5.5 million a year, court filings show. “The Defendant acknowledged that he gambles between $50,000 to $100,000 ‘a few times a year’ at casinos,” states a detention order in the case.

The feds say Graziano was active on social media, and “frequently engaged with the r/poppyseed subreddit that is ‘dedicated to the consumption of poppy seed tea.’” On the site, Graziano described himself as a “Full Time Marketing/E-commerce” entrepreneur, as well as a “Crypto HODL’er, Drug Encyclopedia, Illegitimate Legal Advisor, Loan Shark, Start up Investor & soon to be a public figure. I belong in the spotlight.” Other social media users called Graziano “cocky,” “rude,” and “toddler-like.”

“Not gunna lie I wanna be a vampire a little,” Graziano said on TikTok. “Eternal life, very rich, and women love em.” On X, formerly Twitter, Graziano shouted out billionaire Elon Musk, who owns the platform, “for giving us our social media 1st amendment back!” His pinned tweet is a paean to rapper, fashion designer, ex-Kardashian in-law, and virulent antisemite Kanye West, reading, “Watching them demonize you on telling the truth is the most obvious thing to the 3% of us who aren’t brain washed. Keep speaking out… [Y]ou always have a seat at my table & a wing in my mansion.”

But Graziano will soon likely be unable to make good on such an offer, as federal prosecutors prepare to seize the 8,200 square-foot, six-bed, seven-bath spread on 1.3 acres in Cape Girardeau, Missouri that he bought a year before his arrest for $1 million. On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge said the federal government would take possession of the property if Graziano does not give the court a good reason not to by March 1.

“Space abounds in this Executive home, & there is something for everyone!” reads the now-inactive listing on Trulia.com. “[T]his home offers an exquisite master suite with its own foyer area, a fireplace with built ins, & a ‘to die for’ master closet, with a closet laundry… The lower level sports a theatre area, fully dressed kitchen/bar area, an exercise room, a hobby area, & a cozy spot to gather ‘round the fireplace. The sun room walks out onto the pool, with an outdoor kitchen, pavilion with a bar, & a nearby hot tub. A half bath services the pool & the two garages offer space for 4 cars plus a golf cart. The backyard is resort-like, totally fenced and backs to woods. This home is Paradise!”

Graziano purchased the McMansion on June 22, 2022, according to a civil forfeiture complaint filed in Milwaukee federal court on June 26, 2023. He moved there from Twin Falls, Idaho, where he allegedly stored and shipped his unprocessed poppy seeds, and brought his mom and dad along to live with him, states a detention motion filed in court by prosecutors.

The business was incredibly lucrative, according to the forfeiture complaint, which says Graziano sold his unprocessed seeds for between $39 and $48 a pound.

“By contrast, one pound of Regal brand poppy seeds on https://www.webstaurantstore.com retails for $3.94,” the complaint states. “Even organic Frontier Co-Op poppy seeds sell on Amazon for between $7.25 and $13.89 per pound. Based on their training and experience, agents believe the significant mark-up in cost… is due to the fact that the poppy seeds Graziano has been selling are intended to be used to extract opium alkaloids via the manufacture of poppy seed tea.”

Three individual orders were shipped to undercover DEA agents, the complaint says.

Graziano was arrested June 13 at the Cape Girardeau house, where he was allegedly harboring an 18-year-old fugitive “even though he knew they were wanted for Assault First Degree, Robbery, and Armed Criminal Action,” according to a detention order handed down in August. “He further destroyed those individuals’ cellular phones and gave them a phone that he instructed them to use while at his residence,” the order states as one of several reasons to deny Graziano bond.

Along with the house, Graziano also stands to lose nearly a quarter-million dollars seized from multiple bank accounts he allegedly maintained.

The first deadline for Graziano to file a claim in an attempt to keep his home was set for Aug. 31, 2023, which he missed. Pretrial motions in his criminal case are due by Feb. 27.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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