Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 3, 2013

Man pleads guilty to selling synthetic drugs

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

IRONTON —  An Ashland man pleaded guilty Monday in Ohio to charges stemming from the sale of synthetic drugs at his business.

Robert B. Holley, 45, entered guilty pleas in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court to two counts of third-degree aggravated trafficking in drugs and one count of fifth-degree trafficking in a controlled substance analog of spice.

Under the terms of Holley’s plea agreement, the charges were amended from second-degree drug trafficking. One second-degree trafficking charge was dismissed, as was an additional spice-trafficking count.

Judge D. Scott Bowling scheduled Holley’s sentencing for Jan. 23. He’s expected to receive three years community-controlled sanctions, with the possibility of seven years in prison if he violates the terms of his probation.

Holley was charged with selling synthetic marijuana and other analog compounds outlawed by the Ohio legislature in October of last year with the passage of House Bill 64. He was arrested Jan. 13 after Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies raided his store, the Counter Culture Shop, in the Westview Plaza near Sam’s Club and Walmart.

According to Sheriff Jeff Lawless, deputies raided the store on Nov. 1 and removed about $20,000 of suspected synthetic and analog compounds. Samples were sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification for analysis and were found to contain the banned substances, he said.

As the investigation continued, deputies learned the store was continuing to sell the products, which led to the January action, Lawless said.

Also arrested during the raid was the store’s manager, Joshua W. Tackett, 33, of Olive Hill. Tackett was charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly trying to conceal items listed in the search warrant the sheriff’s department had for the business. A charge of drug possession was subsequently added.

Tackett pleaded guilty to the evidence-tampering charge in November and was later sentenced to community control and community service.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.