Pubdate: Thu, 04 Mar 1999
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)
Copyright: 1999 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Stephanie A. Stanley


A Neighbor Of Critters  In L. Merion Complained. Police Hauled Away
The Goods - And The Owner.

LOWER MERION  -- Leslie Joblin's tie-dye-decorated boutique here
stocked water pipes, smoking pipes, rolling papers and other
paraphernalia often associated with illegal drug use. That is, until
last week. On Friday, Lower Merion and Montgomery County police,
prompted by a neighboring store owner's complaint, raided Joblin's
shop, carted away two van-loads of merchandise, and arrested the
47-year-old shop owner with the long, gray ponytail.Joblin, who has
operated Critters Unlimited Boutique for 24 years in two Lower Merion
locations, was charged on Friday with possession of drug paraphernalia
and possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to deliver it. He was
released later that day after posting 10 percent of $35,000 bail. The
only hint of illegal drug use that police left behind was a poster of
the Mona Lisa smoking a hand-rolled marijuana cigarette.

Much merchandise His merchandise  -- more than 50 water pipes known as
bongs, assorted boxes of rolling papers, rolling machines, zip-topped
plastic bags, glass pipes, urine purifiers, screens, marijuana
growers' magazines, and posters  -- and a bank bag with $22,570 in
cash and checks remains in police evidence storage. It was not
Joblin's first run-in with Lower Merion police, who arrested him on
the same charges twice before  -- in 1987 and 1985  -- when he
operated his store in Bryn Mawr. According to court records and
police, Joblin pleaded guilty both times and served about 2months for
the 1987 charges.

He was sentenced to probation for the 1985 charges.Then, about 11
years ago, Joblin moved his store to 1217 E. Lancaster Ave. in
Rosemont and did business in this college crossroads without any
interference. That began to change last year when Joblin's neighbor on
Lancaster Avenue, the owner of Main Line Photographic Center, began a
one-man campaign to shut down Critters, both store owners said this
week.The motivation for it, however, seems to be in dispute. David J.
Tulsky, a tall, stocky man with graying hair who opened his photo
studio two doors down from Critters in 1996 and immediately made
friends with Joblin, said he saw a young boy behind Critters last
summer holding a glass pipe like those used to smoke crack. Young user
Tulsky said the boy, who was sitting in a car with a female who looked
to be about 18 to 20 years old, told Tulsky that he was 14 and had
just bought the pipe at Critters.Tulsky said he then began to tape
signs in his front and back windows and on his doors reading: "Say No
to Drugs. Say No to Critters." He called the Lower Merion Board of
Health, License and Inspection officials, and the Montgomery County
District Attorney's Office, and wrote a letter to Lower Merion Police
Superintendent Joseph Daly. Daly quickly responded, telling Tulsky
that the department was unaware that Joblin was selling to minors and
that the police would begin their own investigation immediately, both
Tulsky and Daly said. Daly said prior investigations had turned up no
evidence of wrongdoing. Police, who sent in undercover detectives to
buy paraphernalia as part of last week's raid, said they saw no
evidence that Joblin was selling to minors. Joblin said he turns away
customers who are under 18 when they try to buy smoking paraphernalia.
Joblin said that the crusade began only after Tulsky made a mess
behind Critters by dumping some peanut packaging there.

It spilled out of trash cans and the two quarreled over it, Joblin
said. Tulsky said he didn't remember the incident, but said he began
the campaign after Joblin spoke to him with "disrespect." He later
added that it was not a vendetta but an attempt to rid the community
of a "reckless" businessman endangering the lives of children. He also
denied he threatened Joblin, who called police several times accusing
Tulsky of that. "I promised him I would shut his shop down," Tulsky
said Tuesday. "It was not a threat.

"It was a promise."
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