4 charged in $1.6 million synthetic marijuana investigation

Synthetic marijuana

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WKBN) – Four people have been charged in connection to a synthetic marijuana operation that disseminated hundreds of pounds of synthetic marijuana through a store in Cranberry Township. The seized drugs have an approximate value of $1.6 million.

According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, the two-year investigation culminated in the arrest of Richard David Sallade, 71, Patricia Ann Quinn, 67, both of Cranberry Township, Bruce Alan Johnson, 67, and Craig William Pfister, 50.

The grand jury reviewed evidence that showed Sallade allegedly received multiple packages of synthetic marijuana at his business in Cranberry Township. Sallade and Quinn operated multiple tobacco and drug paraphernalia shops, and would break down the packages of synthetic marijuana for re-sale, the grand jury presentment states.

Sallade allegedly received shipments of synthetic marijuana from suppliers in New York and Massachusetts and disseminated the broken down packages to various customers in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Investigators reported seizing approximately $225,000 during the course of the investigation.

Sallade is charged with two counts each of corrupt organizations, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance in addition to one count each of dealing in unlawful proceeds and criminal conspiracy. He was released from custody after his bail was set at $50,000 unsecured at a preliminary arraignment today.

Quinn is charged with two counts of corrupt organizations and one count each of dealing in unlawful proceeds, criminal conspiracy, delivery of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. Her bail was also set at $50,000 unsecured at a preliminary arraignment today.

Pfister and Johnson are both charged with one count each of criminal conspiracy and delivery of a controlled substance. Bail was set for each at $10,000 unsecured.

According to the grand jury presentment, synthetic marijuana is manufactured 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 substance does not contain marijuana but has a similar and significantly stronger effect on the consumer. The effects of the drug are often unpredictable, the presentment states.

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