Bath Salts Felon Avoids Added Time

Judge Allows Federal Inmate To Enter Treatment Program

Posted: March 1, 2014

HARRISONBURG — A former Pamela’s Secrets employee who is serving a federal prison sentence for dealing bath salts out of the Harrisonburg adult shop avoided additional time behind bars Thursday.

A probation violation was filed against Matthew Comer, 34, of Harrisonburg, but both the prosecution and his defense attorney, Bill Eldridge, felt it was best for an alternative option then prison time.

“Rather than revoking time, everyone thought it would be in [Comer’s] benefit to seek a drug-treatment program in the Bureau of Federal Prisons,” Eldridge said.

Had his client faced additional jail time on the state level after he completed the federal sentence, Eldridge said, Comer would have been ineligible for an in-house drug-treatment program in the federal system.

Although Judge T.J. Wilson didn’t dish out additional active prison time to Comer during a hearing Thursday in Rockingham County Circuit Court, Wilson did find Comer had violated his probation terms.

Wilson could have revoked some or all of Comer’s suspended sentence from drug convictions in 2003. Because of numerous probation violations in the last decade, it was unclear how much suspended time remains on his 17-year sentence.

Last year, Comer and the owner of Pamela’s Secrets, Augustus Julias, 49, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to distribute alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone, one of the main ingredients in bath salts.

Bath salts are a type of synthetic drug that produces a high similar to amphetamines or, in some cases, a hallucinogenic.

Another Pamela’s Secrets’ employee, Jeremy King, 49, of Broadway, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg in August.

Julias was sentenced to nine years in prison, while Comer and King were sentenced to six and seven years, respectively. All three defendants were arrested in October 2012.

The case got its start with the drug-related death of a Timberville man in April 2012. The death sparked the first of two raids at the South Main Street store, where he had purchased bath salts.

Investigators seized 500 grams of bath salts during the first raid, but Julias, prosecutors say, continued selling bath salts from the business.

A nearly fatal car crash a month later led to the second search.

In all, police seized more than 600 grams of bath salts and about $70,000 in cash.

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or pdelea@dnronline.com



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