Former Metal Church Bassist Allegedly Sold Pot, Is Fucked

He's not smiling anymore

Yeah, this dude — hugging the banana — is beyond fucked. Investigators have been on him for months. They’ve run his reported income records against his actual financials. They have witnesses. Steve Unger, who played bass for defunct metal band Metal Church and was perhaps better known by his stage name of Shrapnel, is probably going to end up in jail. And that’s a bummer, man. Legalize it!

According to a lengthy report on the News Tribune’s Web site, authorities in Pierce County, Washington, claim they’ve shut down a three-county marijuana-growing operation which they believe was fronted by Unger — who, perhaps not coincidentally, has “naughty” listed as his current mood on MySpace. Just saying.

Police raided a number of residences, business and storage units connected with the growing operation, unearthing guns, explosives, drugs, scales, and other equipment related to the operation. They’ve also seized Steve’s boat, truck, two cars, his mobile home, his Harley, and 20 guitars. That sounds like a seizure sale I need to attend!

Steve, who is 41, allegedly “led the operation from May 2008 until his arrest Monday and used two businesses in Spanaway and Thurston County to sell marijuana,” the paper reports. He has been charged with some serious crimes: leading organized crime, unlawfully manufacturing a controlled substance and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty, and is being held in Pierce County Jail on $100,000 bail. Fuck, that’s not good!

Luckily, Unger’s attorney seems to have his shit together. Jay Berneburg says Steve “adamantly denies” the allegations and is a professional musician who travels and has earned his money legitimately through record sales, concerts and other contracts. “This is another case of the war on drugs run amok,” Berneburg told the paper.

Three other men were charged on possession and intent charges. They’re the ones who probably sold Steve up the river.

According to court records, police were tipped months ago that Unger might be running or at least funding several growing operations in homes in three counties in Washington state. Surveillance of the homes, several storage units, and business tied to the ring was established, and they used a tracking device to keep tabs on Steve’s movements. The owners of one business told police they were having money issues and agreed to sell weed from their shop for a cut.

This led investigators to a cargo trailer — registered to Unger and parked on the property — that contained 76 knee-high marijuana plants. One home was searched, where a gun, a half pound of weed, and a growing room were found. The lady who lives there claims she let Steve set it up in her house. “He taught her how to tend it, and then he would harvest it and give her money,” court documents claims. “She felt that he wasn’t giving her enough money, so she had him remove the grow.”

The tracking device proved Steve had visited all of these places on a regular basis, according to court papers. When he was arrested, he had $1,700 in cash on him. In addition, the Sheriff’s Department checked Unger’s income record with the Washington State Employment Security Department. They claim Unger reported no wages for four years and hasn’t paid business taxes since 1997.

“From May 2008 through June of 2010, when Unger[buehler] had no reportable income, he deposited $176,022.42 into his Key Bank account,” court documents state. “$96,525 of that was cash deposits.”

Like I said — fucked!

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About Chris Harris

Chris Harris is an internationally-published music journalist and writer whose work has appeared on the pages of Rolling Stone, IFC, Revolver, Alternative Press, and Radar. The former news editor for Noisecreep, Harris also served as co-host for the site’s weekly podcast, “Creep Show." Before that, he spent four years writing for MTV News.

  • Valerie_karr

    Your info is so wrong and whoever wrote this is dumb steve and everyone involved are all good people nobody sold steve up the river dumb shits they have too much on him for him to get out of it and not only adults were hurt over this swat team raided one of the houses and pointed guns to babies not fucking cool pigs

  • Royalhoney

    Three other men were charged on possession and intent charges. They’re the ones who PROBABLY sold Steve up the river. That word PROBABLY is very vague and could get innocent people hurt. A lot of good folks are already hurt including Steve. It would be cool if peeps could just shut up though!

  • Catchem7

    Steve is Quilty, end of story, due the crime, do the time, he does grow and smoke, don’t kind yourself, your don’t live that big, with the few sales of their cd/records, he’s been in the business 20yrs, and is still NO BODY, but a drugie. Pot is not legal, so what does the law say. Quilty.

    • He’s innocent!

      U don’t know shit so shut up. A no body?! Then how come when you look up steve unger on google he pops up?! How come metal church is in the EMP?! U don’t jack shit except for the lies that you read! Hes played in front of 50,000 people before! U Wud b lucky to play infont of 10! And if music gets u no where look at nikki sixx Tommy lee Bret micheals any big music star!!!! He can live big because he worked his ass off for it! So shut the he’ll up before you say shit you have no clue about. And if he’s a nobody how come your posting about him. Fuck u. Stupid piggy.

  • ted nugent

    hmmmmm, is it just me or does catchem7 almost sound like a little piggy himself? well heres smething for u, u stupid fucking peice of shit waste of a sperm cell. steve has seen and toured the world for a living, met poeple u couldnt even dream of, u know how much ass that guy gets? maybe u should do a little homework before u start spouting of about shit u obviously no jack shit about, he has been everywhere and play’d with guys like the scorpions and system of a down, and hella more.
    the list will go on and on if ur stupid ass would take time to look up just how well known metal church actually is, what the fuck have u done? and quit getting ur info from every other news and media article u come by cause half the shit is blown way out of proportion and the other half is just plain lies to get dumbasses like u all worked up. u sound like an uptite little bitch! oh, and by the way, guilty is spelled with a g not a q u fucking retart, learn how to type! peace bitch.