Drug sweep nets suspected dealers
Drug agents from the state attorney general’s office joined local narcotics investigators Wednesday on a mission to round up 16 people suspected of dealing heroin in Indiana County.
(Originally posted Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010.)
Police arrested eight of the suspects Wednesday and expected a ninth person to surrender today, according to a spokesman for the attorney general.
The suspects have been described as mid- to upper-level dealers who sold 481 bags of heroin and small amounts of crack cocaine and prescription pain pills to police informants over the past 18 months.
Many have prior convictions and some were serving probation or awaiting court action on other recent charges, court records show.
In a news release, Attorney General Thomas Corbett said the busts were part of an ongoing probe of heroin trade in Indiana County. Much of the contraband originated from sources in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, according to Corbett.
“Our goal in all drug trafficking investigations is to directly attack the problem on the streets, along with disrupting the drug distribution chain and identifying individuals and sources involved in the movement and sale of larger quantities of drugs,” Corbett said.
The attorney general said heroin trafficking “is having a dramatic impact on small towns and mid-size cities all across Pennsylvania, fueling addiction and driving
an increase in other criminal activity … including burglaries, retail theft, robberies and drug-related violence.”
Corbett’s office published the names of the suspects while officers were trying to locate and arrest them.
Among the suspects:
n Robert Fiasco, 32, of Pine Street, Mahaffey, was charged by a state narcotics agent with five counts of possession of controlled substances, four counts each of intent to deliver and delivery of a controlled substance, and one count each of criminal use of a communication facility and possession of a gun by a convicted felon.
Investigators charged that Fiasco sold heroin on May 15 and Aug. 13 in Mahaffey, Clearfield County, and on Aug. 4 and 11 in Bell Township, Clearfield County. Fiasco is accused of selling both heroin and crack cocaine on May 12 in Mahaffey. He remained at large following the sweep.
Fiasco was sentenced in February 2003 in Indiana County Court to serve six months to two years in prison for his guilty plea to possession with intent to deliver narcotics.
n Nicole Brown, 24, of Hammersmith Drive, Indiana, was charged by Indiana Borough police with possession and delivery of unspecified drugs at 8:10 p.m. April 16, 2009, at 352 Grant St., Indiana. Court records showed Brown has no prior arrests.
n Richard Koche, 49, of Livermore Road, Blairsville, was charged by Indiana Borough police with two counts each of possession with intent to deliver, possession of drugs and criminal use of a communication facility. Koche reportedly sold unspecified narcotics at 10:53 p.m. May 2 and 7:20 p.m. June 18 at 216 Market St., Blairsville.
Koche was held at Indiana County Jail when he was unable to post $25,000 bail and was scheduled to appear Oct. 28 for a preliminary hearing before District Judge Guy Haberl.
Court records show Koche appeared Oct. 6 in the Blairsville district court, where he waived a right to a hearing on 22 narcotics charges including two felonies. He had been released on unsecured bond to await trial in Indiana County Court. Koche’s court record shows he was sentenced in August 2004 to serve three to 23 months in Westmoreland County Jail followed by18 months on probation for unauthorized use of a vehicle, and to serve six to 12 months in jail for possession with intent to deliver drugs.
Koche was again sentenced in June 2005 in Westmoreland County to serve six to 12 months in jail for possession of drugs, and in September 2005 to one year less one day to two years less two days for a felony count of possession with intent to deliver narcotics.
n Jacquelyn Mehalic, 21, of East Elm Street, Homer City, and Stephanie Elliott, 20, of Fourth Street, Lucernemines, each were charged by Indiana Borough policewith narcotics offenses at 8:30 p.m. Sept 22 at Carriage House Apartments, 1300 Oakland Ave., Indiana.
Mehalic is charged with one count each of possession of drugs, delivery of drugs and criminal use of a communication facility, Elliott is charged with conspiracy and criminal use of a communication facility. Police charge that Mehalic sold crack cocaine for $50 to an informant in the parking lot of the apartment complex.
Mehalic was held on $10,000 bond to await a preliminary hearing on Oct. 28.
The arrest is the third for Mehalic this year. She was held for trial in the county court for possession of drug paraphernalia and receiving stolen property following a preliminary hearing Aug. 19 in Indiana district court. She also was held for trial on five counts of drug paraphernalia possession and one count each of possession of drugs and defiant trespass following a preliminary hearing Oct. 6 in the Blairsville court.
In Jefferson County, Mehalic was placed on two years of probation for retail theft on May 19, and was awaiting court appearances in November to face charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, receiving stolen property, obstruction of law, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Elliott remained at large following the drug sweep.
Court records show Elliott is scheduled to appear Nov. 4 in Indiana district court for a preliminary hearing on nine counts of possession of paraphernalia and two counts of possession of drugs.
n Daniel Bugay 23, of Winding Lane, White Township, was charged by Indiana Borough police with possession and intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal use of a communication facility.
Investigators reported Bugay sold “a bundle” of heroin to an informant for $150 at 10:18 p.m. June 23 at his residence.
Haberl ordered Bugay to the county jail in lieu of $20,000 bond and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Oct. 28.
On Sept. 9, Bugay waived his right to a hearing at Haberl’s court and opted to face prosecution on charges of receiving stolen property and unsworn falsification. Court records also show Bugay was placed on probation for one year for a guilty plea to recklessly endangering another person in March 2006.
n Autumn McClellan, 24, of Hood School Road, Indiana, was charged by Indiana Borough police with possession of a controlled substance, delivery of drugs, criminal use of a communication facility and conspiracy at 1:50 p.m. Jan. 14 and 9:21 p.m. Jan. 15 at 3098 Warren Road, White Township.
Police charged that McClellan sold 69 bags of heroin to an informant for $975 in the earlier drug deal, then sold 10 stamp bags of heroin to an informant for $90 the next day.
According to court records, McClellan also is scheduled to appear in Homer City district court for a hearing on firearm transfer law violations on Nov. 8 and for a hearing Dec. 27 on six narcotics offenses in two unrelated complaints.
McClellan has been housed at Indiana County Jail since Aug 16 with bond set at $150,000 for the earlier narcotics charges. Haberl added $25,000 to her bond requirement for release on the charges filed Wednesday.
Court documents show McClelland was placed on one year of probation in April 2007 for possession of drugs and an additional year of probation in May 2007 for possession of a small amount of marijuana.
n John Szentmiklosi, 24, of Catherine Street, Homer City, was accused by Homer City Borough police with selling eight Oxycodone pills for $100 to an informant at 9:11 p.m. Oct. 21, 2009, at his residence.
Szentmiklosi is charged with one count each of delivery and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He remained at large this morning.
Court records show Szentmiklosi failed to appear Sept. 28 for a scheduled hearing on a bad checks charge in the Homer City district court. He is scheduled to appear Nov. 4 for a criminal call hearing in Indiana County Court to face a misdemeanor count of filing false reports.
n Brittany McCune, 20, of Old William Penn Highway, Blairsville, was charged by Blairsville Borough police with one count each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal use of a communication facility at noon Sept. 19 on Socialville Road at Susan Drive, Blairsville.
McCune sold 10 stamp bags of heroin for $200 to an informant under police surveillance, court papers show.
McCune was incarcerated at the county jail when she was unable to post $10,000 bond and was told to appear Oct. 28 for a preliminary hearing.
No other arrests appear on a search of court records.
n Larry Dunlap, 36, of Certy Street, Latrobe, was charged by Blairsville Borough police with two counts each of possession of a controlled substance, intent to deliver a controlled substance, and criminal use of a communication facility and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Investigators charged that Dunlap delivered heroin on Sept. 28 at 5 E. Market St., Blairsville, and on Sept. 7 at 110 S. Main St., Homer City.
Police continued the search for Dunlap following the sweep of suspects Wednesday.
A court record shows Dunlap was ordered in September 2003 to serve two days to 12 months in Westmoreland County Jail for driving under the influence.
n Jason Rabatin, 35, of North Main Street, Cherry Tree; Jamie Hoffman, 23, of Bigler Avenue, Northern Cambria; and Todd Tiger, 30, of Almond Street, Northern Cambria; were charged with narcotics offenses by Cherry Tree Borough police.
Rabatin sold 50 stamp bags of heroin, packaged as a “brick” to an informant for $550 on Dec. 22 at the parking lot of Choice Cigarette Outlet, Sixth and Franklin streets, Clymer, according to police, and has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver, delivery of drugs and conspiracy.
Police charged that Hoffman sold six stamp bags of heroin for $100 at 10:38 p.m. Nov. 21 to an informant in the parking lot of Iseman’s Bar, 410 S. Main St., Cherry Tree, and has been charged with a felony count of delivery of drugs, court papers show.
Tiger was charged with two counts of conspiracy related to the allegations against Rabatin and Hoffman.
Both Rabatin and Tiger were arrested Wednesday and held at Indiana County Jail to await hearings on Oct. 28. Bond for Rabatin was set at $20,000 and for Tiger at $5,000.
Court papers show Hoffman was in jail in Allegheny County and was scheduled to appear Wednesday for a bail hearing on a felony theft charge filed by Munhall Borough police.
In Cambria County, Hoffman had pleaded guilty to theft, receiving stolen property and an unrelated count of unauthorized use of a vehicle and is scheduled to appear for sentencing in the two cases on Dec. 7.
Court records show Rabatin was sentenced in Cambria County court to serve 48 hours to six months in jail for DUI in March 2009, six months of probation for possession of drugs in March 2009, and 23 months of probation for receiving stolen property in October 2006.
Tiger was sentenced in February 2006 to serve four to 23 months in Cambria County Jail and 18 months of probation for burglary and theft. He also was sentenced in December 2006 to serve one year in prison and two years of probation for theft.
n Anthony Findley, 25, of Route 580, Cherry Tree, also was charged by Cherry Tree police with possession of drugs intent to deliver, deliver of drugs and criminal use of a communication facility.
Findley allegedly sold 0.53 grams of Oxycodone to an informant at 7:30 p.m. April 27 in Green Township. Findley remained at large following the sweep.
Court records show Findley was sentenced in September 2008 to serve six to 12 months in jail followed by three years of probation for theft and simple assault.
n Amber Legros, 23, of North Main Street, Cherry Tree, and William Davis Jr., 48, of Clarion Road, Cherry Tree, were charged by Cherry Tree police with narcotics violations at 7:58 p.m. May 17 in Cherry Tree. Davis is charged with possession, intent to deliver and delivery of 0.18 grams of heroin; Legros is charged with delivery of heroin, criminal use of a communication facility and conspiracy.
Neither Legros nor Davis was arrested Wednesday.
Legros pleaded guilty to three unrelated counts of passing bad checks earlier this year in Clymer district court and was ordered to pay $1,323.45 in fines and restitution. Court records show she also was sentenced July 15 in Cambria County to serve three months in jail for tampering with evidence.
Davis is listed as a fugitive from theft and receiving stolen property charges filed in 2007 in a district court in Cambria County.
He was sentenced in January 2004 to serve six to 23 months in Indiana County Jail for DUI and was placed on one year of probation in February 2008 in the Clearfield County Court for his guilty plea to theft.