Two "amateur" drug dealers with ambitious aspirations of controlling all the marijuana sales on the Mainline were quickly busted, along with young associates who were selling high-quality California-grown cannabis, cocaine, hash oil and Molly at wealthy high schools and colleges in the affluent region west of Philadelphia known as the Mainline. Neil Scott was the 25 year old senior partner in the venture, while 18 year old Timothy Brooks allegedly served as his right-hand man and protégée. The pair had both attended the elite $35,000 a year Haverford School before washing out of college. They dubbed their plan to dominate marijuana sales in the "The Mainline Takeover Project."
A 46 year old Brooklyn man spent 30 hours behind bars in April of this year for the crime of possession of MDMA pills, an illegal drug better known as ecstasy or E. A drug arrest story would be unremarkable, but for the fact that the pills in his pocket did not go by the name "Ebeneezer Goode." Instead, they were POW brand energy mints, a perfectly legal cocktail of stimulants. Energy mints are similar to energy drinks, containing sugar, caffeine, taurine, vitamins and ginseng, giving the user a legal speed rush.
Perhaps the most misused term in the world of criminal law is "narcotics." Many people who should know better, such as police officers, prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys and crime beat reporters, use the term "narcotic" as a synonym for any illegal drug. Thus, in their use of English, marijuana and cocaine a narcotics, while Oxycodone is a "prescription drug." When I hear such misuse of the term "narcotic" I want to pull out my hair and scream. As a criminal defense attorney interested in linguistics, it is one of my major pet peeves.
It turns out that the founder and operator of the "Silk Road" website, which had frustrated law enforcement for the past several years, has a masters degree from Penn State. Ross Ulbricht, who earned a masters in material science and engineering from Penn State in 2010, was arrested yesterday in San Francisco on a variety of federal charges related to his operation of Silk Road, as well as charges related to a murder for hire plot, in which Ulbricht allegedly sought the murder of someone who was trying to extort money form him, and an employee to had defrauded Silk Road users out of a substantial amount of money.
As a criminal defense attorney in a bustling college town, I am often asked how State College's head shops and mom and pop convenience stores can get away with selling bongs, bowls, vaporizers, empty plastic dime bags and the like. This is a common question among people who find themselves charged with the ungraded misdemeanor known as "possession of drug paraphernalia," along with a charge of possession of a small amount of marijuana. These clients usually say something like, "I knew it was illegal to have weed, but I didn't think it was a separate crime to have a bowl, when you can buy one at Jamaica Junction."
Six people have been charged in York County, Pennsylvania with charges related to a cocaine distribution ring, which allegedly distributed the stimulant throughout South Central Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. Following the conclusion of "Operation Special Delivery," the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office alleged that the organization was moving three to four kilos of cocaine a month, or the equivalent of 857 to 1,143 eight-balls, a standard unit in which the drug is often sold to users.
Bath salts have been an illegal drug in Pennsylvania since August, 2011. Possession of bath salts is an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine, while the sale or possession with intent to deliver bath salts is an ungraded felony punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $15,000 fine. But banning a drug does not eliminate demand, and where there is a demand, there will usually be a supply.
Recently, I posted a blog entry entitled "Beware of the Enemy Within," in which I describe a not uncommon scenario where an angry wife or girlfriend runs to the police to implicate her boyfriend or husband for drug possession. Perhaps if a West Manheim Township man would have read my blog post and heeded its warning, he would not find himself in the world of pain he is in now.
Everyone knows that it is illegal to sell drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin, but most people are unaware that under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, using a cell phone or email to set up a drug deal constitutes a separate and distinct criminal offense, aside from the actual drug delivery. This offense is known as "criminal use of a communications facility," and it is a third degree felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison and a $15,000 fine. Criminal use of a communications facility applies to drug sellers using devices like phones or email to set up drug deals, but it does not apply to those using such devices to buy drugs.
Humans have had cars for but a brief fragment of our evolution, and our old hunter-gatherer instincts still control our actions when faced with danger. When Stacy Henry was pulled over by Ferguson Township Police On May 2, 2013, he had three choices from the instinct menu: fight, flight of freeze. Unfortunately, he made the wrong choice, and tried to flee in his vehicle in a futile attempt to avoid arrest on both new and old drug charges. Not only did he add a fleeing and eluding police charge to his list of new charges, he also caused a serious accident on heavily-trafficked North Atherton Street on the North end of State College.