ShareThis Page

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

| Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, 12:52 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dis
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.

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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.