The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Union County

May 15, 2014

Store owner admits sales of synthetic marijuana

LEWISBURG — A Muncy man accused in 2012 of selling synthetic marijuana at his shops in Lewisburg and State College entered a guilty plea Thursday, canceling a six-day jury trial scheduled for next month in Union County.

Kurt Reichenbach, 44, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of possession with intent to deliver synthetic marijuana, one count from Union County and the other from Centre County. The cases were consolidated and heard in Union County.

The plea, should President Judge Michael Sholley accept it, could find Reichenbach serving as much as five years of probation. The remaining 30 charges against him, most of them felonies, would be dropped.

A jury was picked April 29 to hear Reichenbach’s case, which his attorney, Brian Manchester, of Bellefonte, vowed to fight to the end. Since Reichenbach’s arrest, Manchester has presented numerous experts to support the assertion that Reichenbach did not sell an illegal substance because the state’s controlled-substance classification does not cover all “analogs” of those substances.

A synthetic drug can be tweaked, and if it doesn’t have the same chemical components that are on the state’s list, it’s not illegal, Manchester has said. He declined comment on the case Thursday.

If found guilty, Reichenbach could have faced as much as 20 years in prison and a possible $200,000 fine. Reichenbach also waived his right to withdraw his plea.

Sholley reminded Reichenbach that a jury had been selected for his trial, which was scheduled for June 10-16, and entering the plea would prompt the judge to discharge the jury.

“If something goes wrong, if I reject the plea, you won’t get the same jury back,” Sholley said. The judge isn’t required to accept the plea.

Prosecuting and defense attorneys together choose jurors. Should the need arise, “You’ll get a whole new panel of jurors, and the whole process starts over again,” Sholley said. Reichenbach said he understood.

The Union County prothonotary will notify jurors that they are no longer needed for the trial. Should Sholley accept Reichenbach’s pleas, sentencing would occur in July.

Reichenbach and his ex-wife were arrested in May 2012, accused of money laundering and selling synthetic marijuana at their Grasshopper Gift Shops in Lewisburg and State College.

A preliminary hearing featured testimony from investigating officers of the Buffalo Valley Regional Police, state police and the state attorney general’s office in State College, all involved in an undercover probe that stretched from November 2011 through May 2012.

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