- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - A former store manager has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from a synthetic drug investigation.

Media outlets report that 59-year-old John Skruck pleaded guilty on Monday to synthetic drug conspiracy and structuring money transactions to evade IRS reporting requirements.

Federal prosecutors say Skruck ran the Hot Stuff Cool Things stores in Buckhannon and Clarksburg for owner Jeffrey Paglia. Authorities raided and closed the stores in 2012.

Authorities have said the stores were a major distributor of hallucinogenic bath salts in north-central West Virginia.

Skruck disappeared in May 2013 as his drug trial was set to begin. U.S. marshals arrested Skruck in New Mexico in January.

Paglia is serving more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty in November 2012 to similar charges.

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