Police shut down Acrat

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Sale of synthetic marijuana and bath salts alleged

Acrat has been open for four decades on Tilton Road in Northfield.
– Police executed a search warrant Tuesday afternoon at Acrat in Terra Mar Plaza on Tilton Road here, and by evening several employees were being questioned at police headquarters and the process of revoking its mercantile license was under way.

According to Northfield Police Chief Robert James, a police undercover operation preceded the search warrant execution. Undercover agents purchased synthetic cannabinoids at Acrat on more than one occasion, he said.

“Our officers purchased synthetic marijuana and pipes as well as bath salts. In March, Governor Christie signed a bill into law that specifically made the sale of the synthetic cannabinoids illegal in the state of New Jersey,” he said.

Acrat, which sells CDs, posters and music memorabilia, is commonly referred to as “head shop” because its merchandise includes smoking pipes, rolling papers, lighters, electronic cigarettes, incense and other material. Such items are also offered at its website, www.acrat.net.

The covert operation was carried out with the cooperation of Egg Harbor Township Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and netted two suspects, employees of Acrat who were being investigated Tuesday in connection with the sale of synthetic cannabinoids.

James said the manmade marijuana is commonly referred to as K2 or Spice and is sold in a small pouch. The bath salts, sold in a plastic bag, can be ground and inhaled. Both substances are illegal

Northfield Detective William Ward and Capt. Arthur Faden conducted a search of the premises. Ward was cataloging the interior of the shop Tuesday afternoon after it was shut down.

According to the Northfield mercantile license, Acrat – an acronym for Atlantic County Records and Tapes – first opened here in 1973 and is owned by Will Strohl of Egg Harbor Township. James said he believes Strohl is currently out of state.

At the Northfield City Council meeting Tuesday evening, James requested permission to begin the revocation process of Acrat’s mercantile license, and Mayor Vince Mazzeo agreed.

According to City Clerk Mary Canesi, a mercantile license can be revoked if the licensee is operating a business in an unlawful manner, has breached a city ordinance or other reasons.

The license holder is entitled to a hearing before City Council, she said, and notice of the proposed hearing listing the date and time must be mailed to the last known address listed on the license at least five days before the hearing.

The license holder may bring legal representation, call witnesses and have the testimony entered into the record, according to Canesi, and City Council can vote whether or not to revoke the license. Canesi said Northfield has never revoked a mercantile license, so this process is a first time for everyone.

As of Wednesday afternoon the investigation was ongoing and charges were pending, according to James. Detective Steven Steinecke is handling the investigation.

Northfield Police Detective William Ward photographs and inventories the interior of Acrat on Tilton Road in Northfield after police executed a search warrant and closed the 40-year-old shop.

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