Man jailed on $2.2M bail
TOWANDA - A Towanda man is being held in lieu of $2.2 million bail on charges that he raped a female numerous times and sold bath salts from his residence, police said.
"Based on the quantity (of bath salts sold), he was a pretty high level dealer," said Al Ogden, a detective with the Towanda Police Department.
The rapes occurred while the victim was a minor and also after she turned 18, Towanda police said.
The man who was charged, 55-year-old Donald Charles Burrell, threatened the female with a stun gun to force her to engage in sexual activity with him, police said.
He also struck her with an electrical cord, and struck her with the gun, police said.
Besides the rape charges, Burrell was charged with photographing and videotaping a minor in a prohibited sexual act, eight counts of possession of child pornography, as well as numerous counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, Towanda police said.
In addition, Burrell was charged with 25 counts of delivery of a controlled substance, one count of possession with intent to deliver bath salts, possession of bath salts, and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.
Burrell was responsible for the possession and delivery of at least 1 1/2 pounds of bath salts between 2011 and 2013, police said.
For the most part, Burrell sold the drugs from his residence in Towanda, Ogden said.
Towanda police said their investigation into Burrell's activities began when they investigated an incident in May 2013 during which Burrell was assaulted at his residence by 26-year-old Blake Dieffenbach of Troy.
During the incident, Dieffenbach struck Burrell in the head with a concrete brick, which left him critically injured, police said.
"During the processing of the scene for the assault investigation, various items associated with narcotics activity were discovered. These included written notes relating to the inventory and sale of narcotics, owe sheets, a large amount of U.S. currency in excess of $39,000, and plastic containers which had a white powder residue in them and a laptop computer," the Towanda police wrote in a criminal complaint that they filed Tuesday in Towanda District Court against Burrell.
The white powdery substance in one of the containers field tested positive for the presence of bath salts, police said.
Deiffenbach was initially charged with attempted criminal homicide in connection with the May 2013 assault. However, the charge was dropped as part of an agreement in which Dieffenbach pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, court records show.
Part of Dieffenbach's motivation for assaulting Burrell is that he felt that he had not been treated fairly by Burrell when he purchased drugs from Burrell, Ogden said.
Dieffenbach "was not a satisfied customer," Ogden said.
While Burrell was admitted to Robert Packer Hospital after the assault in critical condition, he has been out of the hospital "for quite a few months," Towanda Police Chief Randy Epler said.
Burrell was arrested Tuesday and arraigned by Troy Magisterial District Judge Jonathan Wilcox.
Wilcox set Burrell's bail at $2.2 million, Ogden said.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: email@example.com.