WEST PITTSTON — The owners of an Exeter smoke shop were arraigned Wednesday on charges they sold synthetic marijuana, racking up as much as $5,000 in sales a day, according to arrest papers.
The state Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation allege Sharleen Palaima, 62, and her husband, Alfonse Richard Palaima, 64, of Division Street, Pittston, sold synthetic marijuana from their business, Magikal Garden, on Wyoming Avenue from March 2012 through the end of July 2012.
Magikal Garden was one of many retail smoke stores and gasoline service stations across the state raided on July 26, 2012, in Operation Artificial High, an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, state police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The searches resulted in the seizure of more than 300,000 doses of synthetic marijuana and illegal bath salts, with an estimated street value of $1.25 million, and more than 50,000 pieces of drug paraphernalia related to the smoking or consumption of synthetic drugs, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
A Magikal Garden employee allegedly told authorities that on a good day the store sold up to $5,000 worth of synthetic marijuana, according to arrest papers.
Agents seized the Palaimas’ bank account records, learning checks were drafted to Liberty Herbal, Liberty Enterprises and AK Distributing to purchase the supply of synthetic marijuana sold at Magikal Garden, arrest papers state.
Sharleen Palaima is listed as the president of Magikal Garden. She was charged with corrupt organizations, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and three counts of criminal conspiracy.
Alfonse Palaima was charged with two counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy and a single count of corrupt organizations.
They were arraigned by District Judge Joseph Carmody in West Pittston and both released on $25,000 unsecured bail.
Preliminary hearings are scheduled on Oct. 2.
Attorney Peter Moses, who is representing the Palaimas, said the couple has owned and operated their business for more than 30 years and are “excellent law-abiding citizens. They maintain their innocence and I can guarantee they will fight this to the end.”
The commonwealth initially charged the corporation with a crime, Moses said. “When we decided we would fight this, the commonwealth decided to charge them individually,” he said. “But no matter what the commonwealth does, there’s no way they’re going to deter us from exercising our constitutional rights.”
He said there will be “a lot of legal and scientific arguments in this case, and we believe the science and the law will be on our side.”