A Cherokee County judge has granted a $50,000 bond for the manager of Smoke 911 stores who was arrested earlier this month on charges of selling illegal synthetic drugs from a Woodstock store.
Serena Burkard is accused of selling a banned methamphetamine type drug, commonly referred to as bath salts, to an undercover police officer Sept. 4.
A subsequent search of Burkard's van discovered more packets of suspected bath salts, synthetic marijuana and more than
$10,000 in cash.
Channel 2's Tom Regan attended the bond hearing before Superior Court Judge Frank C. Mills III.
Burkard's mother testified for her daughter, saying she was a superior student at Emory University, where she enrolled in a pre-med program in 2004.
After graduation she began working for the owner of the adult novelty store chain. She asked the judge to allow her out on bond to go home to Indiana.
"Her room is there waiting, and I've been waiting for her all these years." said Collen Brolin.
Brolin told the judge she did not believe her daughter was selling illegal drugs, and was confused by the term "bath salts."
"I have arthritis, and Serena sent me lavender scented bath salts in an apothecary jar for Christmas. They are lovely. Epsom's salts, I understand," Brolin said.
The attorney for the store manager said Burkard was misled on the legal status of the products she sold.
"We don't know from one day to next, if these things were legal. One day it's legal, the next day, it's not legal. She's getting advice from the attorneys, the owner of the business, telling her that stuff is good to sell, don't worry," attorney Anthony Morgese said.
Morgese argued that prior to her arrest, Burkard had never been in trouble and would not be a flight risk while out on bond. But the prosecuting attorney disagreed.
"We can't say with any assurance that she won't continue to sell this stuff as long as she has access to it." said Cherokee Assistant District Attorney Wallace Rogers
The Smoke 911 chain has been the target of multiple raids by local and federal authorities in recent months.
Federal warrants said the raids were part of an ongoing investigation into suspected illegal drug sales and money laundering by Burkard and the owner of the chain, Micheal Madlen. Madlen has not been arrested.
In setting bond for Burkard, Cherokee Superior Court Judge Frank Mills said the defendant must remain at home, unless she finds employment. She also must not have contact with Madlen, her former boyfriend.