Buffalo Township grandma pleads guilty to selling hundreds of pounds of weed

Last January, Candace Kelly of Buffalo Township flashed a peace sign after being released on bond. She was sentenced Thursday to a miniumum of 15 months in state prison, with the possility she could be freed after 11 months.
Last January, Candace Kelly of Buffalo Township flashed a peace sign after being released on bond. She was sentenced Thursday to a miniumum of 15 months in state prison, with the possility she could be freed after 11 months.
Photo by Jason Bridge | Valley News Dis
Chuck Biedka
| Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, 12:52 a.m.

A 65-year-old Buffalo Township woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to selling as much as 100 pounds of marijuana a year from her home.

Authorities claim that Candace Delaven Kelly of 410 Kepple Road sold that much marijuana each year for more than four years.

Kelly voluntarily entered a general guilty plea. She did so without a plea agreement with prosecutors, which is routinely done by suspects in order to receive reduced charges or a recommendation for a lighter sentence.

As is stands, she could be sentenced to 10 years or more in prison for drug sales, possession, and conspiracy. She also had mind-altering mushrooms.

Kelly also agreed to forfeit almost $393,000 confiscated in her residence. Most of the cash will be given to the state police and attorney general's task force, with $12,500 going to her attorney, Jeffrey R. Wasak.

In October 2013, police and drug agents also found 64 pounds of potent hydroponically grown marijuana, 2 pounds of “magic” mushrooms, and about 2 pounds of hashish. Hashish, or “hash,” is akin to powerful marijuana.

Inside her neat mobile home, police also found drug pipes, items used to package the marijuana, a marijuana grinder, digital scale, hallucinogenic mushrooms and hashish, and papers showing the extent of trafficking.

The grand jury presentment on Kelly alleges there was evidence of a “multiple year marijuana trafficking enterprise” dating to 2009.

A man is listed as a co-conspirator but he has remained out of state and has yet to be prosecuted.

Judge sets sentencing hearing

On Wednesday, Butler County Judge William Shaffer accepted the plea and was told about the money forfeiture agreement that is awaiting approval by the state attorney general's office in Harrisburg.

Sentencing is at Shaffer's discretion. There is no minimum mandatory sentence.

Shaffer ordered that a pre-sentence investigation to be conducted prior to sentencing on Nov. 20.

Outside the courtroom, Kelly politely declined to comment.

Wasak said Kelly has “accepted responsibility and is remorseful” and cooperated with the authorities when she allowed a search of her house. All of that should be considered in sentencing, he said.

Wasak is “hoping to persuade the court that Miss Kelly has demonstrated there is no evidence of her being a menace” to society.

He believes Kelly shouldn't be sentenced to time behind bars and if so, that the sentence allows her to serve it in Butler County near her family.

Home detention would “certainly be an appropriate disposition,” he said outside the courtroom.

Senior Deputy State Attorney General Tomm Anthony Mutschler confirmed that Kelly's general guilty plea was not as a result of a plea bargain.

“No offer was made,” he said.

Mutschler said he will ask the judge to sentence Kelly to prison.

Kelly was originally arrested a year ago this month, but those charges were withdrawn. In December, the grandmother of five was indicted by a state grand jury and was rearrested in January.

Kelly remains free in lieu of $100,000 unsecured bond because she wasn't considered to be a flight risk.

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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