CLARKSBURG - A Clarksburg man charged with selling illegal synthetic drugs at two West Virginia shops was on the run Tuesday as his trial was set to begin, and U.S. marshals were dispatched to hunt him down.
Jury selection was supposed to begin Tuesday morning for the trial of 56-year-old John Skruck, but he failed to appear before U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley in Clarksburg.
The Exponent Telegram says Keeley issued an order for his arrest. The trial will continue this week if Skruck is captured by Wednesday afternoon, Keeley said. If not, she'll reschedule for early September.
Prosecutors say Skruck ran the Hot Stuff Cool Things stores in Buckhannon and Clarksburg for owner Jeffrey Paglia before federal authorities raided and closed them last April.
Authorities called the stores a major distributor of hallucinogenic bath salts in north-central West Virginia and noted that Paglia had planned to open a third store in Fairmont.
Paglia will be sentenced in July on one count of drug conspiracy and one count of structuring monetary transactions to evade reporting requirements. Two of his other employees are to be sentenced June 10.
But Skruck, who functioned as general manager, is facing the most charges under a 27-count superseding indictment filed in February.
Late last week, Keeley approved a motion to handle four counts related to money laundering in a separate trial.