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Buffalo Township woman sentenced to jail for selling pot

Chuck Biedka
VNDCandyKelly2012914jpg
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 Buffalo Township woman who said she sold marijuana to support her granddaughters may spend at least a year in state prison.

On Thursday, County Judge William Shaffer sentenced Candace Delaven Kelly, 64, of Kepple Road, to 15 to 30 months in state prison and fined her $7,500 plus court costs.

Under a state program for non-violent offenders, Kelly could be released after serving 11 months, according to Kelly's attorney.

In October 2013, state police and state drug agents found about 64 pounds of hydroponically grown marijuana — worth about $190,000 — 2 pounds of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and about 2 pounds of hashish in Kelly's home. Hashish, or “hash,” is akin to powerful marijuana.

They also confiscated almost $393,000 in cash that Kelly subsequently agreed to forfeit.

They also found drug pipes, items used to package marijuana, a marijuana grinder, digital scale, and papers showing the extent of her drug trafficking.

Police said she sold about 100 pounds of marijuana a year at least for the past four years. Each pound sold for about $3,300.Kelly bought marijuana from Oregon and California and had it delivered in the mail to her mobile home along a winding country road.

Kelly was initially charged in 2013 but the charges were withdrawn. In January, a special state grand jury investigation found there was evidence of a Kelly being part of a “multiple year marijuana trafficking enterprise” dating back to 2009.

Last month, Kelly pleaded guilty to all charges.

Before sentencing Thursday, the prosecutor, Kelly's attorney and Kelly addressed Judge Shaffer.

Senior Deputy State Attorney General Tomm Anthony Mutschler asked that Kelly receive a prison term because she had been sentenced for drugs before and she “knew the consequences.”

Kelly's defense attorney, Jeffrey R. Wasak, said Kelly isn't a threat.

“The chances of her being a risk to the community is zero,” Wasak said.Wasak noted that several states have legalized marijuana.

“Not in Pennsylvania,” Shaffer replied.

When her turn came, Kelly apologized to the judge and asked for leniency.

“Can you just give me probation for the rest of my life?” she asked.

“Please, don't take me away from my kids. I'm sorry. I'm sorry,” a tearful Kelly pleaded as two grandaughters and her husband watched the proceedings.

But Shaffer pointed out Pennsylvania lawmakers have decided marijuana use is a crime in the state.

He said Kelly might have been eligible for a sentence lesser than the state norm except for her previous drug sales conviction.Still, he sentenced her to 15- to 30-months for two charges, but he made both sentences concurrent, or served at the same time.

Shaffer is also allowing her to report to the state Department of Corrections on Dec. 1 rather than on the day she was sentenced.

Mutschler declined to comment after the hearing.

Wasak said Kelly could have received a lesser sentence, perhaps a county jail with work release or electronic home monitoring. However, her previous drug conviction — for possession with intent to sell drugs — ruled that out.

“She will be OK,” Wasak said. “She is a strong woman.”

Wasak said Kelly is an example to her granddaughters.

“She accepted responsibility and consequences,” he said.

Wasak disputes the amount of profit that the prosecution said Kelly made.

“She lives modestly. Her profit was negligible,” he said. “She told me she didn't have the money to buy a new dress for court.”

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or [email protected].

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