Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 26, 2013

Owner of Dark Wings indicted

Nichols charged with use and investment of drug-related income

CATLETTSBURG — The owner of an Ashland novelty shop that was raided by police earlier this month for allegedly selling synthetic drugs was indicted Monday by a Boyd County grand jury.

Grand jurors charged Yvonda Nichols, 56, with one count of use and investment of drug-related income, a Class D felony that carries a one- to five-year prison sentence, Boyd Commonwealth’s Attorney David Justice said.

The charge stems from the seizure of suspected synthetic drugs and other items from Nichols’ store, Dark Wings Novelties, which is in the 500 block of 29th Street. Ashland Police Department officers converged on the business the evening of Feb. 13 and executed a search warrant. A large quantity of suspected synthetic marijuana was seized, along with a small amount of actual marijuana, cash and a 9 mm handgun.

According to newly released information from the APD, the department obtained the search warrant for the business after a confidential informant purchased three different varieties of suspected synthetic marijuana there.

Police also confiscated a number of items from the shop’s inventory that are commonly associated with smoking legal and illegal substances, including pipes, hookahs, bongs and rolling papers. Those items, which are normally legal to sell, were deemed drug paraphernalia because they were found along with illegal substances.

Nichols, who pleaded guilty in January in Scioto County Common Pleas Court to charges stemming from a raid last year on her Dark Wings store in Wheelersburg, remains at large and police say they believe she has left the area. By fleeing, she may have violated her probation in the Scioto County case, in which she pleaded guilty to drug possession and money-laundering.

The APD said it took action against Dark Wings in response to numerous complaints that the shop was selling synthetic marijuana, which was outlawed in Kentucky last year by the state legislature. Police said many of those complaints had come from parents and others who deal with children.

Synthetic marijuana, or “Spice,” is made by chemically treating dried leaves from common herbal plants. It’s sold in foil packets as “herbal incense” or “potpourri.” The packets are labeled “Not for Human Consumption,” put purchasers generally use the products as substitute marijuana.

In an unrelated matter, grand jurors on Monday also indicted 14 defendants for allegedly defrauding the state’s unemployment insurance system, according to a release from Justice’s office.

Earl M. Goins, 39, of Manchester; James D.  Miller, 35, of Catlettsburg; David R. Cordell, 48, of Catlettsburg; John R. Ross Jr., 51, of Catlettsburg; Wendy J. Jarrell, 48, of Catlettsburg; Paul D. Lawson, 38, of Russell; Robert May, 30, of Ashland; Rocky J. Sexton, 41, of Ashland; Jonathan D. Clayton, 34, of Catlettsburg (also charged with persistent felony offender); Michael D. Grimm, 61, of Ashland; Aaron M. Valentine, 29, of Ashland; Jonathan D. Peters, 46, of Ashland; Bobby R. Barrow, 65, of Ashland; and Martin E. Grubb, 31, of Olive Hill, were each charged with one count of unemployment insurance fraud.

Other defendants named in true bills returned Monday by the grand jury were:

Christopher Gamble, 39, of Ashland, charged with drug trafficking.

Thomas E. Gamble, 30, of Wurtland, charged with two counts of drug trafficking.

Jeffrey L. Crabtree, 30, of Ironton, charged with burglary.

Jackie S. Allen, 44, of Salyersville, charged with theft.

Eric Maddix, 26, of Ashland, charged with burglary and persistent felony offender.

Rebecca Lemon, 22, of Barboursville, charged with two counts of burglary.

Joshua L. Gundy, 27, of Huntington, charged with robbery and with two counts of burglary.

Lori Lemon, also known as Lori Stepp, 38, of Barboursville, charged with burglary.

Edward M. Skeans, 50, of Ashland, charged with drug trafficking.

John H. Mrosko, 33, of Greenup, charged with theft.

Richard A. Evans II, 27, of Ashland, charged with promoting contraband.

Jeffrey Damron, 19, of Ashland, charged with terroristic threatening.

Willard R. Hunt, 28, of Greenup, charged with persistent felony offender.

A grand jury indictment is a formal accusation of a crime and does not establish guilt.

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

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