WOODSTOCK - The small discount store on Commerce Street in Woodstock raided by police last week remains open for business, despite the large amount of synthetic drugs agents say they discovered on the premises.
The raid, which Maj. Scott Proctor with the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office called one of the largest drug and money seizures the county has seen in terms of state cases, uncovered 451 individually packaged vials of bath salts and 679 vials of K2, a type of synthetic marijuana. Police also confiscated $190,000 in cash at the scene, as well as three firearms.
Larry Franklin Walsh, 73, the owner of the store, B&L Discount House, was arrested on one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Proctor said additional charges are pending. The sale and possession of synthetic stimulants such as bath salts, and synthetic marijuana, has been illegal in Virginia for about a year.
Proctor said that the raid on Nov. 30 was the largest involving such drugs in the county. Before that, he said, local police issued mainly possession charges related to synthetic drugs.
“We’ve had some cases where people have supposedly been under the influence of bath salts, some public intoxication-type issues,” he said. “We’ve had some domestic situations where we believed that was an issue.”
Woodstock Town Manager Larry Bradford said Tuesday he was still unsure of the fate of the store, located at 154 S. Commerce St. Bradford said Walsh is renting the building, where he lived and operated the shop.
According to Bradford, the fact that Walsh may be facing jail time might render any decision by the town to try to close it unnecessary.
“It might be hard for them to operate if they are not paying taxes, and other [payments],” he said. “Those are the types of things we’ll be looking at.”
Bradford plans to speak to Woodstock’s town attorney, Albert Mitchell, and Police Chief E.L. Reiley, at which point he said he will have more concrete information.
Mitchell could not be reached and Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley did not return calls for comment.
But, according to Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst, several routes could be taken to shut the store down.
In a similar situation in Harrisonburg, Garst charged the owner of Pamela’s Secrets, where police say they seized synthetic drugs more than once, with six misdemeanor counts of creating a public drug nuisance in June. Those charges were used to support a temporary injunction ordered by circuit court to temporarily close the store.
If Pamela’s Secrets’ owner, Augustus George Julias II, is convicted of those charges, the business could be shut down for good.
Garst said the Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, town attorney or a private citizen could file a suit to declare the store a public nuisance. Additionally, a commonwealth’s attorney could file misdemeanor charges of creating a public nuisance against the person involved with the business in question.
A temporary injunction to close the business, Garst said, may be granted as soon as the bill makes it to court.
Also, because Woodstock United Methodist Church operates a licensed day care on South Muhlenberg Street not far from B&L Discount House, Walsh could face additional charges for the manufacture of and intent to distribute drugs near such a facility.
Contact Kaitlin Mayhew at 574-6290 or firstname.lastname@example.org