Alleged bath salts dealer sent to prison

A Warren man prosecutors believe to be a major dealer of bath salts in the county was sentenced following a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office.

William Edward Housler, 1202 Pennsylvania Ave. West, will spend an additional 28 months to seven years in a state correctional facility following Warren County Sentence Court proceedings Friday morning.

President Judge Maureen Skerda handed down the sentence against the man District Attorney Ross McKeirnan repeatedly referred to as the “kingpin” of bath salts in Warren County.

An August 2011 probation check of Housler’s residence found drugs and drug paraphernalia. During a search of the site, the drug task force found evidence indicative of narcotics sales. Further investigation, turned up witnesses and evidence Housler was holding large sums of unaccounted for cash, which eventually led to formal charges.

In Oct. of 2012, Housler was arraigned on two counts of possession with intent to deliver, 16 counts of possession of controlled substance, four counts of prohibited offensive weapons and one count of possession, sale, distribution, manufacture, advertise of electronic device.

The following month, Housler entered not guilty pleas to all counts.

In Dec. 2012, after extensive testimony from individuals claiming they were involved in Housler’s drug ring, Senior Judge William F. Morgan granted a petition for forfeiture of nearly $40,000 prosecutors said was generated by selling drugs. Witnesses described a drug operation involving large sums of cash, internet purchases of bath salts from around the world, multiple daily drug transactions and an operation which continued even while Housler spent time incarcerated.

On Feb. 1, Housler entered guilty pleas to three of the 23 charges against him. Under the plea agreement, Housler was sentenced on a single count each of possession with intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance and prohibited offensive weapons.

Additionally, Skerda sentenced Housler to 12 months suspension of driving privileges, undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and pay $2,150 in fines and costs. She also commuted a sentence Housler is currently serving in the Warren County Jail to a state correctional facility and ordered sentences to run consecutively.

During pre-sentence comments, McKeirnan said, “Mr. Housler is a large reason Warren County has a bath salts problem.”