Bradford County bath salt dealers allegedly had drugs shipped from Hungary, China
The eight individuals named in a federal indictment that led to multiple Bradford County bath salt distributors being arrested in December allegedly obtained the drugs from online sellers in China and Hungary, according to documents filed by prosecutors in federal court.
The documents further revealed that the international suppliers used the U.S. Postal Service and other common carriers to ship the drug-filled parcels to "various members of the conspiracy." Prosecutors assert that the drugs were paid for through use of international money transmitters.
The information stems from the government's response to a motion for pre-trial release from Attorney Thomas B. Helbig on behalf of defendant Chris Thompson, 41, of Cooper Plains, N.Y. The motion states that prior to his arrest, Thompson was self-employed as a contractor and he anticipates that he will be able to return to work if released. It also says that, if released, Thompson plans to reside in the Waverly, N.Y. area.
The response from federal prosecutors alleges that after receiving the drug shipments, Thompson and others would distribute the bath salts to co-conspirators named in the eight person drug ring which were then sold in and around Bradford County.
After outlining details of the investigation, federal prosecutors urged the court to not release the defendant on bail pending trial.
"The government's evidence includes testimonial evidence from cooperating witnesses as well as recorded conversations between the defendant and members of the conspiracy discussing the procurement and distribution of the controlled substance," the response read.
Prosecutors also claim to have records of wire transfers from defendants to the online source of bath salts.
A detention hearing was scheduled to be held on Jan. 13 for Thompson, but no public records could be found Saturday that listed the outcome of the proceedings.
Thompson's alleged co-conspirators are; Seth Barnes, 38, of Milan; Brad Brown, 45, formerly of Towanda; Corey Dobbins, 39, formerly of Rome; April Fuller, 48, of Monroeton; Robert Howe, 26, of Elmira, N.Y.; Patrick Russell, 48, of LeRaysville; Kenneth Rider, 55, of Monroeton. All eight individuals were arraigned in December before U.S. Magistrate Karoline Mehalchick and pleaded not guilty.
The defendants are charged with crimes that carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, although court documents show some individuals are currently in plea bargain negotiations.
Aside from Thompson, none of the other defendants' attorneys have filed public documents that offer any new information. Many of the accused have records that are sealed from public view on the federal court's Public Access to Court Electronic Records system.
The group allegedly distributed over 5,000 grams of Alpha-PVP and 1,000 grams of Methylone between Nov. 29, 2012 and Dec. 1, 2013.
At the time of their arrests, Rider, Russell and Barnes were released and the others were either already incarcerated or held without bail.
A ninth man, Chad McLinko, 31, of Towanda was also arrested during the federal drug bust, but is not listed in the indictment with the other eight individuals. He was released after his arraignment in December.
Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Twitter: @TimZyla.