It's the story that gets stranger and stranger as it unfolds, and it involves a member of a well-known mushroom industry family.
Richard Basciani, the grandson of the founder of mushroom company Basciani Foods Inc., was arrested last week on a variety on drug and firearms charges.
Pennsylvania state police issued a search warrant for the home of Richard Basciani or Avondale. Last Tuesday, police raided Basciani's residence and recovered two handguns, which Basciani was not licensed to carry.
Police also recovered eight chunks of crack cocaine and several crack pipes. Basciani informed the police that there was marijuana in the basement, which they found (nearly two ounces) along with $8,150 in cash.
Perhaps the oddest of the charges levied against Basciani was "interception, disclosure or use of wire, electronic or oral communication."
According to investigating officer James Ciliberto's affidavit, on Jan. 10, Basciani received a call from a 19-year-old female (unidentified in the affidavits), whom he then met at Kildare's Pub in West Chester.
According to Ciliberto, Basciani recorded his conversation with the unidentified woman.
When confronted with these activities by Ciliberto nearly two hours later at his residence, Basciani confirmed that he went to meet with the woman with the intention of recording the conversation between them.
Ciliberto was not at liberty to elaborate any further on the case, including whether or not it was Basciani's intention to buy or sell drugs during the incident in question.
"I'm leaving it at what we issued in the press statement," Ciliberto said, adding that the sensitive nature of the investigation demands a degree of secrecy.
"We were purposefully vague in the affidavits and the press release," Ciliberto said.
What was unclear in the affidavit -- and what could not be confirmed by police sources -- is exactly how Basciani became involved in the investigation in the first place. Sources within the state police were reluctant to disclose any additional information pending Basciani's upcoming preliminary trial.
The probable cause affidavit, however, tells a different tale altogether.
According to Ciliberto's affidavit, Basciani was the subject of an ongoing investigation concerning the sale of several illicit drugs, including the prescription drug OxyCotin.
In the affidavit, an unidentified female alleges that Basciani sexually assaulted her in a variety of ways starting in the spring of 2003, when she was hired to clean Basciani's home on Kaolin Road in Avondale.
The woman, who was 16 at the time the assaults began, also alleges that Basciani kept a secret "safe room" room in his basement -- one that could only be accessed by removing shelves that covered the entrance.
It was here that the victim maintains that Basciani reputedly raped her over the course of nearly two years, the same place where he allegedly kept a lab for what she thought was for crack cocaine production.
The victim also claimed that Basciani had a cornucopia of drugs at any given time, including percocet, vicodin, Valium and Viagra, as well as methamphetamine, crack cocaine and the aforementioned marijuana. According to her statement, she had seen drugs and drug paraphernalia ever since she began working for Basciani, and on at least one occasion has partaken of several substances herself with the defendant.
The affidavit states also that Basciani's residence is continually monitored 24-hours a day by remote security cameras. The victim asserts that she saw herself on a monitor during her Christmas Eve visit and believes that the assaults -- several of which took place in Basciani's bedroom -- could be also on tape.
"He has cameras in every room in the house, every angle ... even the bathroom," the victim stated in the affidavit. She also said that Basciani is capable of observing up to 16 different views on a monitor at one time.
"He does go back and look at the tapes," said the victim.
"At this point, we're handling things issue by issue," said Thomas Schindler, one of Basciani's defense attorneys (along with Bob Donatoni, both of West Chester). "We have only been on this case for a relatively short time, and we're still sorting out the details.
With a preliminary trial originally set for Jan. 17, Basciani's defense team has asked for a continuation. As of press time, that date had not been set.
Schindler was adamant that neither the Basciani family nor the company itself has anything to do with these matters. Schindler said that Basciani has not actively worked for the company in over a year, although he still owns a stake in the company and as a result receives monetary compensation on a regular basis.
"We do have a story to tell, but not at this point," Schindler said. "But we cannot discuss all of these allegations at this time."