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Accused bath salts dealer in court

Larry Walsh (Buy photo)

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK -- A 73-year-old town man accused of dealing illegal bath salts from his business last year faces a grand jury next week.

Larry Franklin Walsh appeared for a preliminary hearing Friday afternoon in Shenandoah County General District Court . He is charged with conspiracy to manufacture controlled substances, three counts of making drugs and one of maintaining premises deemed a nuisance.

Walsh, of 212 S. Commerce St., was using an oxygen tank and a wheelchair during his appearance. Area attorney Brandon Keller represented Walsh.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ilona White asked the court to dismiss the charges against Walsh. Judge Amy Tisinger granted the motion but explained to Walsh that the commonwealth could seek to indict him on the charges at a future date. White indicated that the commonwealth does intend to seek indictments against Walsh.

The grand jury meets Tuesday in the circuit court to consider cases for indictment.

Also on Tuesday, a hearing is scheduled in the circuit court on the commonwealth's attempt to seize assets from Walsh related to the criminal charges against him. The commonwealth's attorney filed a notice of forfeiture of $194,436 in cash from Walsh. The money is currently held in trust with the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office. The commonwealth's filing claims the cash is connected to the illegal manufacture and sale of controlled substances.

A criminal complaint filed with the nuisance charge provides details about the case. The Woodstock Police Department responded to an unresponsive male at B&L Discount, 154 S. Commerce St., on Nov. 13, 2012. The complaint identifies Walsh as the caller and the owner of the business. Responders found Carey Radabaugh on the property. He was unresponsive and seated in a chair next to the main entrance. The Woodstock Rescue Squad took Radabaugh to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital.

Radabaugh told officers at the hospital he had just smoked "7H Cush," a synthetic cannabinoid, that he got from B&L Discount before he passed out, the complaint states. Officers also found on Radabaugh a black metal smoking device that contained burnt residue. Radabaugh admitted to smoking the drug in the device, the complaint states.

After responders took Radabaugh to the hospital, Walsh told officers he would need to close the business because he could not operate the shop without Radabaugh.

Prior to this event, the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office conducted several controlled purchases of drugs from the business through a confidential informant, according to the complaint. Walsh sold "bath salts" to the informant during these purchases.

Authorities arrested and charged Walsh on Aug. 31, 2012 with manufacturing a controlled substance. He was released on his own recognizance at the time of his arrest.

Later, on Nov. 30, 2012, members of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham RUSH Drug Task Force made a separate, controlled drug purchase through an informant. Walsh sold bath salts to this informant during the purchase, according to the complaint.

Law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at B&L Discount on Nov. 30, 2012 just after the purchase. Agents seized several hundred packages of both suspected, synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts from the business as well as a large amount of cash.

Walsh admitted to authorities in an interview that he was aware of the effects the products seized had on people and that he was not selling them as they were labeled, the complaint states.

"He can also be heard on audio recordings from the controlled purchase, telling the informant that they would experience a high better than other controlled substances," the complaint states.

One of the brands of bath salts submitted to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science for testing was identified as pentedrone, classified as a schedule I controlled substance, according to the complaint.

Radabaugh also appeared in the general district court on Friday for a preliminary hearing on two counts of manufacturing a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy. Tisinger dismissed the charges at the request of the prosecutor, who can seek indictments against Radabaugh as early as Tuesday.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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