Couple pleads guilty to federal drug charges


HUNTINGTON — A Mason County couple pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal drug charges, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Eugene “Gene” Asbury, 69, and Natasha “Tess” Clonch, 32, both of Gallipolis Ferry, entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to distribute synthetic cannabinoids.

Asbury and Clonch admitted that from at least 2013 through February 2015, they sold $1.6 million worth of synthetic cannabinoids, also known as “Spice” and “Potpourri” from “The Scent Shop,” a store they operated on Huntington Road in Mason County. The synthetic cannabinoids contained controlled substances and controlled substance analogues, and were packaged under a variety of trade names, including Scooby Snax, Heaven’s Grass, Get Real, Black Diamond, Mr. Nice Guy, and Mad Hatter. The couple further admitted that they laundered the proceeds of the sales by using cash or money orders to purchase additional synthetic cannabinoids, as well as vehicles and real property. They also admitted to laundering the proceeds by co-mingling the money through the bank accounts of Natasha Clonch, dba “The Scent Shop” and Asbury Inc., under which Asbury operated several businesses, including the Route 35 Adult Video and Bookstore in Putnam County.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Asbury and Clonch agreed to the forfeiture of $1.6 million in assets obtained by the sale of synthetic cannabinoids, including more than $189,000, a 2015 GMC Yukon, a 1952 Oldsmobile, a fully-restored 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air, and real property located in Glenwood, West Virginia.

Asbury and Clonch each face up to 20 years in federal prison when they are sentenced on November 27, 2017.

The investigation was conducted by the West Virginia State Police and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Hanks is in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers.

This case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs. According to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.”

Information for this article submitted by the office of United States Attorney Carol Casto.

.neFileBlock {
margin-bottom: 20px;
}
.neFileBlock p {
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
}
.neFileBlock .neFile {
border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
padding-bottom: 5px;
padding-top: 10px;
}
.neFileBlock .neCaption {
font-size: 85%;
}

http://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/08/web1_3.18-PPR-Graphic-6.jpg

Staff Report