CRANBERRY TWP — More than 360 pounds of synthetic marijuana with an approximate street value of $1.6 million were seized as part of a two-year police investigation that resulted in the arrest of three Butler County residents on Thursday.
According to court records, 71-year-old Richard D. Sallade of Cranberry Township received numerous shipments of synthetic marijuana from out-of-state-suppliers at his Route 19 business called “Glass Gone Wow,” which sells various pipes, e-cigarettes, vaporizers and herbs.
Sallade and his girlfriend, Ann Quinn, 67, allegedly would break down the packages of synthetic marijuana at the shop for resale, the grand jury presentment states.
Additionally, evidence presented to the grand jury showed that Sallade, Quinn, Craig William Pfister, 50, and Bruce Alan Johnson, 67, also delivered synthetic marijuana to various customers in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Customers also allegedly purchased the drug from Sallade and Quinn in and near their business.
Synthetic marijuana does not contain marijuana but has a similar and significantly stronger and unpredictable effect, according to the presentment. The drug is made by compounding a Schedule I controlled substance in powder form with acetone to dilute it. The mixture is then sprayed on a green leafy material and dried.
The foil packets containing the drug are commonly marketed as “potpourri.”
Investigators in October 2013 seized 73 pounds of synthetic marijuana at the UPS facility in Jackson Township. The package was addressed “Attn: JB” and had a return address to a UPS store in Tampa, Fla. Investigators days later seized two additional packages containing 109 pounds of the drug at the same facility.
Investigators soon discovered that prior packages from the same sender, Alex Mustafa, had been delivered to Tobacco 4 Less, the name of Sallade’s Route 19 store at the time. The grand jury received evidence that Sallade had multiple packages of the drug shipped to the store between December 2012 and October 2013. Those packages were transferred to another storefront in the same retail center that he used as an office and store room, where Sallade and Quinn allegedly would break down the packages for resale.
The grand jury also received testimony that between October 2013 and November 2014 Sallade on at least 10 occasions imported between 3,000 and 4,000 packets of synthetic marijuana from suppliers from New York and Massachusetts in exchange for about $10,000. Those shipments were stored at a storage unit leased by Johnson in Vanport, Beaver County.
Investigators in November 2014 obtained search warrants for the business, Sallade’s home and two storage units in Beaver County and recovered about 148 pounds of synthetic marijuana with a retail value of $200,000. Investigators also reported seizing about $225,000 during the investigation.
Sallade and Quinn, of 1265 Norberry Court, Apt. 16, are both charged with corrupt organizations, dealing in unlawful proceeds, conspiracy — possession with intent to deliver synthetic marijuana, and possession with intent to deliver the drug.
Both were arraigned Thursday and released from custody on $50,000 unsecured bail.
Pfister of Prospect and Johnson of Monaca, Beaver County, are both charged with one count each of criminal conspiracy and delivery of a controlled substance. Sallade could not be reached for comment.
Attorneys for Sallade and Quinn both declined to comment at this time.
The arrests were a result of a joint investigation between the Office of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Bureau of Special Investigations, and the state police Southwest Strike Force. Police from Cranberry and Harmony Township in Beaver County also assisted.