14 Accused In Baltimore-To-Altoona Cocaine Network
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state prosecutors said Thursday they filed charges against 14 people in what they describe as a drug distribution network that purchased cocaine in Baltimore for resale in the Altoona area.
Attorney General Linda Kelly said the group sold about five pounds of drugs a week, and accused Damion K. Floyd, 33, of being the principal figure in the organization.
“Even after he was arrested during a drug supply trip from Baltimore and sentenced to state prison, Floyd allegedly attempted to continue running his drug organization — using phone calls, correspondence and personal communication with his girlfriend …and other associates, to monitor activities in Altoona,” Kelly said in a release.
The court docket did not list a defense lawyer for Floyd, who like all 14 defendants was charged with drug possession with intent to deliver, conspiracy and other offenses.
Prosecutors said the operation dealt about $2 million worth of drugs last year and is considered the largest drug network ever identified in Blair County.
A grand jury report detailed phone calls, meetings and drug-purchasing trips to Baltimore involving various defendants.
The center of activity for the ring is alleged to have been the Corner Bar and Grille in Altoona, described as a place where drugs were stored, packaged and sold.
The bar was seized when search warrants were executed in November. The person named by prosecutors as the bar owner, Brian Stroh, 37, was among the 14 people charged.
Stroh’s lawyer Steve Passarello said Stroh was not the actual owner, and while he managed the bar he did not spend time there.
“He was hardly ever present at the bar during the relevant time period,” Passarello said. He said Stroh vehemently denies the allegations against him.
The grand jury report said authorities found an ounce of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and a scale inside Stroh’s office in the bar. In an upstairs room rented by a co-defendant, they also found wrappers for about five pounds of cocaine, two digital scales, cutting agents and a cocaine press, the jury said.
Also charged was Natasha Q. Miller, 30, described as Floyd’s girlfriend. Her lawyer, Joel Peppetti, said Miller was already in jail based on a previous arrest in the same investigation and has not been able to make bail.
Peppetti said she denies the charges.
“We plan on filing suppression motions to challenge the legality of the wiretaps,” Peppetti said.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)