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Charges dropped in Buffalo Township drug bust

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 12:11 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Candice Kelly, 61, leaves the office of District Judge Sue Haggerty in Saxonburg after having charges against her withdrawn on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Candice Kelly, 61, leaves the office of District Judge Sue Haggerty in Saxonburg after having charges against her withdrawn on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Police say they found more than 60 pounds of marijuana and more than $300,000 in cash at 410 Kepple Road in Buffalo Township.

Charges have been withdrawn against a 61-year-old Buffalo Township woman who police alleged had nearly $400,000 in cash and thousands of dollars worth of high-grade marijuana and other drugs when arrested at her home last week.

Candice Delaven Kelly, 61, of Kepple Road had been jailed in lieu of $100,000 percentage bond since Thursday.

But on Wednesday morning, Saxonburg District Judge Sue Haggerty accepted a deputy state attorney general's request to withdraw all of the charges.

A handcuffed but smiling Kelly was still wearing a Butler County jail uniform when she was taken back to the jail temporarily in order to be released from custody.

The deputy AG didn't return a call for comment.

A state trooper said earlier that Kelly had about 64 pounds of marijuana in sealed plastic bales and other packaging, two other types of drugs and drug paraphernalia inside her family's mobile home nestled next to a tree-lined hillside near a cornfield.

Initial arrest papers said that, at first, about 40 pounds of marijuana and about $350,000 in currency were found. The trooper, Jeffrey Brautigam, said state police and AG task force agents knocked on the Kelly door about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and they were “overwhelmed” by the odor of raw marijuana.

Police said she immediately agreed to allow them to search the house.

In Haggerty's courtroom on Wednesday, Brautigam said Kelly signed a consent to search form and appeared to be cooperative, but added, “she showed us what she wanted to show us.”

Brautigam said the marijuana was readily seen along with a box with about $40,000 in cash.

When police started to find more money, the search continued for about two hours, Brautigam estimated.

They found more cash, as well as suspected hallucinogenic mushrooms and hashish.

In the withdrawn charges, police say the found about 2 pounds of “magic” mushrooms and about 2 pounds of hashish. Hashish, or “hash,” is akin to powerful marijuana.

Brautigam said the hydroponically, or water-grown and chemically enriched, marijuana was in bales or packages that were inside duffle bags and overnight bags.

He said the task force found $392,000 bundled in boxes throughout the bedroom.

Police say they found drug pipes, digital scales and items used to package drugs, but not the equipment needed to grow marijuana.

Police said high-grade, hydroponically grown marijuana sells for $3,000 to $4,000 a pound.

That would make the haul more than $190,000.

Brautigam couldn't place a street value on the other drugs.

Kelly didn't comment when leaving Haggerty's office. At the mobile home, her husband said the family “has no comment.”

Kelly's attorney, Warner Mariani, didn't return calls for comment.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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