Numerous federal and local law enforcement officials gathered Wednesday afternoon in Clarksburg, to announce the shut down of a store that sold bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
Judge John Bailey has ordered that Hot Stuff and Cool Things operating in Harrison & Upshur Counties be shut down permanently, according to U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld, who spoke at the press conference.
Ihlenfeld said Hot Stuff and Cool Things may have been the largest supplier of bath salts in the area. He also said this synthetic drug problem has been very taxing on the community.
Harrison County Sheriff Albert Marano was also at the press conference and said citizens have provided a wealth of information in this investigation.
A large number of law enforcement officers were seen at the Hot Stuff and Cool Things store, in Harrison County's Rosebud Plaza, Wednesday morning loading the store's goods into a moving truck. Law enforcement officers were also seen at the Hot Stuff and Cool Things Buckhannon location Wednesday as well. Officials said 70 agents from various law enforcement agencies have been pursuing this investigation in Harrison and Upshur Counties since last year.
Ihlenfeld also sent out a news release stating that Jeffrey J. Paglia, 48 of Clarksburg, owner of the Hot Stuff Cool Things store in Rosebud Plaza was indicted Tuesday in Elkins on multiple charges of drug trafficking, maintaining a drug-involved premise and the structuring of monetary deposits
Paglia was arrested and made an initial appearance Wednesday before Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull, according to the release
Three other individuals and two corporations were named in the eleven count indictment, including John N. Skruck, 56 of Clarksburg; Jeremia J. Phillips, 30 of Clarksburg; Derrick L. Calip, 40 of Clarksburg; Jemrose, Inc. d.b.a. "Hot Stuff and Cool Things" of 603 Rosebud Plaza in Clarksburg; and Pag-Corp, Inc., of 603 Rosebud Plaza in Clarksburg, officials said.
Skruck, Phillips and Calip were also arrested and appeared before Magistrate Judge Kaull Wednesday, according to the release.
Paglia, Skruck, Phillips and Calip have each been charged with the conspiracy to distribute Schedule I Controlled Substances and Schedule I Controlled Substance analogues, referred to as "bath salts" in the indictment, according to the release.
Officials said they are also charged with the sale of "bath salts" on multiple occasions between September of 2011 and January 2012, as well as maintaining drug involved premises at the store in Rosebud Plaza and at the storage building located in Stonewood.
Paglia and Jemrose, Inc. are facing charges of illegally structuring monetary transactions as well. Officials said it's alleged that Paglia made bank deposits totaling $747,430 over a six month period in 2011 that were structured to evade federal reporting requirements.
Paglia, Skruck, Phillips and Calip are scheduled to appear in Federal Court in Clarksburg Monday in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull. Paglia is scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m., with Skruck, Phillips and Calip appearing after him.
The U.S. seeks to forfeit eleven parcels of real property, the contents of eight bank accounts, three motor vehicles, one Bobcat front-end loader and the contents of various safety deposit boxes. Officials said the U.S. is also seeking judgment against the defendants in the amount of $2,560,320.
Approximately $750,000 in cash and bank accounts were seized by agents Wednesday as part of the search and seizure operation.
The IRS, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bridgeport and Clarksburg police departments and the Harrison County Sheriff's Department were all involved in the investigation, according to the release.
The U.S. Attorney's Office is working with the United Summit Center and Valley Health Care System to provide support for people that may begin to suffer from the side effects of withdrawal from synthetic drugs.
To view the complete indictment paperwork for Paglia and others involved, click on the link labeled 'Indictment' to the right of the story.