Party centers staying open

BRIDGEPORT – Fred Fryman will keep his stores open pending the appeal of a closure order announced Friday by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

DeWine on Friday ordered Fryman and his wife, Joyce, to close the Bridgeport Party Center and Martins Ferry Party Center for one year because of the illegal sale of synthetic drugs. However, Fryman said he plans to stay in operation for the time being.

”We have been given an extension so our attorney can file an appeal,” Fryman said. ”We will remain open.”

The ruling calls for both stores to be closed from Tuesday through Sept. 30, 2014. It was made in response to a nuisance abatement action filed by DeWine in July.

”Business owners need to know that if they take the risk of selling synthetic drugs, then they are also putting their entire business on the line,” DeWine said. ”Those who sell these products are marketing dangerous, illegal drugs to our kids, and we take this very seriously.”

Earlier this year, Belmont County Drug Task Force officers allegedly purchased synthetic narcotics from both stores. The owners allegedly sold the items in their stores as incense and potpourri.

In his ruling, Belmont County Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Fregiato said it was clear the owners were aware the products they were selling were illegal. DeWine filed a separate lawsuit alleging that the Frymans “engaged in unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable acts by selling illegal drugs as legal products.”

The Martins Ferry and Bridgeport businesses are the third and fourth stores respectively ordered to temporarily close in Belmont County due to nuisance abatement action filed by DeWine. Earlier this month, a judge ordered that the Shadyside Party Center close for one year. Similar action was ordered against Bob’s Cheap Smokes in St. Clairsville to cease operations until October.