Warren County to prosecute area’s first ‘bath salts’ cas
Clearcreek Twp. man charged with receiving items through the mail.
A Clearcreek Twp. man scheduled to be arraigned today in Warren County Common Pleas Court on a charge of aggravated drug possession will be the first person in the region prosecuted under the new state law banning the sale or possession of the designer drug known as bath salts, as well as synthetic marijuana.
The case will be the first test of the synthetic drug law that went into effect in October, officials said.
“I believe with law enforcement it will clearly give them the direction of what elements are required to prosecute under the new statute,” said Ken Betz, director of the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory. The crime lab has investigated 17 deaths stemming from synthetic stimulant use since March 2011.
Matthew R. Holbrook, 35, was indicted last month on a fifth-degree felony drug possession charge after he allegedly received a package by mail on Oct. 26 containing bath salts that he had ordered via the Internet. The package contained items labeled “Tiger Blood” and “Crystal Clean” hookah and pipe cleaner, said Warren County Prosecutor David P. Fornshell.
“Obviously, on the website they indicate the substance is perfectly legal,” he said.
The crime lab determined that the substance was Pentylone, a stimulant with a chemical structure that is “substantially similar” to Methylone, which is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the new law, Fornshell said. Fornshell’s office plans to prosecute Holbrook under the “controlled substance analog” piece of the legislation that states any structurally similar compounds must be treated as Schedule I substances and carry the same legal penalties.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office also is preparing bath salts cases, he said.
Ohio Prosecuting Attorney Association Executive Director John Murphy said he was not aware of any cases to date statewide that have been prosecuted under the new synthetic drug law.
By Dave Larsen, Staff Writer
Updated 11:51 PM Thursday, February 2, 2012