Shop owner pleads guilty in bath salts case
The owner of two north-central West Virginia shops that sold illegal bath salts pleaded guilty to two federal charges Monday and could face up to 30 years in prison.
Jeffrey Paglia, 48, of Clarksburg appeared Monday before U.S. Magistrate John Kaull in Clarksburg.
Paglia pleaded guilty to one count of drug conspiracy and one count of structuring monetary transactions to evade reporting requirements on income from his "Hot Stuff and Cool Things" stores in Buckhannon and Clarksburg.
Paglia could get as many as 10 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines when sentenced on the monetary transactions charge, and as much as 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million on the drug conspiracy charge. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
He also agreed to forfeit property, including a dozen real estate parcels, five vehicles, two motorcycles, an excavator, a forklift and an embroidery machine. Prosecutors are also seizing more than $730,000 from several accounts in Paglia's name, including funds seized from his attorney.
In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop additional charges and agreed not to prosecute Paglia's girlfriend, identified in court documents by the initials M.C.
Paglia and his companies, Jemrose Inc. and Pag-Corp Inc., were initially indicted on eight counts of drug conspiracy and two counts of maintaining a drug-involved property, as well as the monetary transactions charge.
Two of Paglia's former employees have pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge and await sentencing, but Jemrose manager John Skruck is still headed for trial in February.
Authorities shut down the Buckhannon and Clarksburg stores in April, calling them a major distributor of bath salts in north-central West Virginia.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has listed bath salts in the same category as heroin and LSD.
Last fall, the agency banned the possession of bath salts containing two chemicals, but authorities say manufacturers are constantly changing the composition of their products to skirt the law.
At least 30 states, including West Virginia, have outlawed synthetic drugs, hallucinogens and stimulants.