ST. CLAIRSVILLE Stacey McCabe-Heathcote, 44, 57311 Sheryl Ave., Bellaire, was arraigned Thursday before Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato and pleaded not guilty on two counts of trafficking in drugs, a felony of the fourth degree, each carrying two forfeiture specifications, and one first-degree felony possession of drugs with a forfeiture specification and a major drug offender specification.
A first degree felony carries a sentence of 11 years.
Her pre-trial was set for Oct. 28, with plea agreement Jan. 21 and trial Jan. 30. Bond was set at $20,000 and she was taken into custody.
STACEY McCABE-HEATHCOTE, owner of the Shadyside Party Center, appears in court. The Shadyside Party Center will be close on Oct. 1 as ordered by Attorney General Mike DeWine.
"The F-1 drug possession with the specification of major drug offender is dependent upon the amount of drugs that were found," said Prosecutor Chris Berhalter.
Heathcote owns the Shadyside Party Center. She was ordered to close the establishment by Attorney General Mike DeWine on the allegation that it was selling synthetic drugs.
"This case shows how serious state and local authorities are about stopping the sale of synthetic drugs. Not only must this defendant close her store for a year, but she is now looking at the possibility of being sentenced to leave her family and friends and go to prison," DeWine stated in a press release.
If found guilty, Heathcote could also forfeit the business and all associated real estate.
Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Solovan II had declared the store a public nuisance and ordered it closed Oct. 1, 2013-Sept. 30, 2014. Heathcote apparently had weekly sales of $2,000-$3,000 worth of items marketed as incense or potpourri. Solovan ruled that she had knowledge that the substances were being used as illegal drugs.
A search warrant was served in March after reported undercover drug buys.
"We're very grateful for the attorney general's help in this battle," said Berhalter. "Synthetic drugs are illegal and they are just as harmful and dangerous as heroin, therefore we're going to continue to attack this problem head-on, until these types of drugs are removed from our communities."
The Shadyside Party Center was one business raided along with the Trading Post in Bridgeport and Bob's Cheap Smokes in St. Clairsville.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org