Store operator charged with selling synthetic marijuana

July 29, 2013
Drug task force officers and Canonsburg police remove computers, boxes and other related items from the Cricket store on West Pike Street in Canonsburg last July after searching the business for more then four hours. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

More than 18 months ago, parents and grandparents of Canonsburg teenagers complained to borough Mayor David L. Rhome and police Chief R.T. Bell that drugs were being dealt from a store and that their children were being sickened.

The complaints launched an investigation by police Detective Sgt. Al Coghill that ended Monday with the arrest of the operator of the former Cricket store at 119 W. Pike St.

Michael Ficorilli, 50, of 204 Walnut Drive, Eighty Four, turned himself in Monday after learning that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

On Nov. 4, 2011, Coghill interviewed a Canon-McMillan High School student who had become sick after he smoked a product he reportedly purchased at the store.

The boy, who was brought to the police station by his mother, had to be treated at Canonsburg Hospital for heart-related complications from ingesting the substance.

The teen told police that the Cricket store was a known location to purchase “K-2,” the street name for synthetic marijuana and designer drugs. The boy turned over what he had remaining. It was tested at the state police laboratory in Greensburg and turned out positive as a Schedule I drug, Coghill said.

The teen agreed, with parental consent, to go into the store and purchase more of the “Smokin’ Camel Potpourri” as part of a controlled buy of an illegal drug. When he went into the store, the teen learned the store was out of the “Smokin’ Camel” but offered a product called “BAM.” The clerk, later identified as Ficorilli, assured the boy that it was just as good, police said.

Coghill obtained a search warrant for the store in January 2012. The merchandise seized was sent to the state police crime lab. All the items were shown to be a Schedule I drug. The store also was raided last July by borough police and investigators with the state police and Washington County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force.

Bell said Coghill did a good job in launching the investigation and then working with the district attorney’s office.

Ficorilli’s arrest comes days after Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone announced the arrest of eight others stemming from the sale of synthetic marijuana.

Ficorilli was arraigned before District Judge David Mark on charges of possession and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a designer drug. possession of drug paraphernalia, being part of a corrupt organization and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity. He was released on $50,000 unsecured bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 7 before Mark.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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