Drug sweep nets 33 in five counties
State police allege Martin P. Gismondi II made a handsome livelihood of $100,000 a year growing and selling marijuana in Westmoreland County.
On Wednesday, police charged Gismondi, 36, of 338 Waltz Mill Road, South Hungtindon, with operating an indoor and outdoor marijuana growing operation based at residences he owned in Mt. Pleasant and South Huntingdon. He was among 33 people arrested yesterday in a five-county drug sweep.
"The amount of money he earned was adequate to provide a comfortable livelihood. Not only was he growing marijuana in Westmoreland County, but selling it here as well," said Trooper Steve Limani, a state police public information officer.
State police Capt. George Kuzilla, commanding officer for Troop A in Greensburg, said 47 individuals from Allegheny, Cambria, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland counties were charged yesterday with various drug offenses. Police are looking for 14 other suspects.
Kuzilla said the drug sweep by local police departments and troopers from Ebensburg, Greensburg, Indiana, Kiski Valley and Somerset picked up major to street-level dealers.
"The arrests stem from months of investigation and range from a mobile meth lab, to indoor marijuana grows, as well as street-level dealers of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and illegal sales of prescription pills," Kuzilla said.
During raids last month at Gismondi's residences, police seized 80 marijuana plants, 10 pounds of marijuana, $85,000 worth of indoor grow equipment and $1,839 in cash. Gismondi was jailed in lieu of $10,000 bond after arraignment before Norvelt District Judge Roger Eckels. He faces a preliminary hearing Nov. 18.
Also arrested was Donald R. Babyak, no age available, of 844 Franklin St., New Kensington, for alleged possession of "a functional, non-operational meth lab."
Police said 14 types of chemicals -- several combustible -- were found when state police troopers from Kiski Valley pulled over Babyak's van for a traffic stop on Feb. 25 and found a portable meth lab inside the vehicle.
"Meth is already a horrific drug entering our communities, but besides the drugs themselves, having these type of combustible materials inside a vehicle is really alarming," Limani said.
Police charged Cambria County residents Adam L. Garber, 29, 261 St. Mary St., and Michael Paul Gongloff, 27, of 158 Gongloff Lane, both of Loretto, after shutting down a meth lab in Allegheny Township in Cambria in September 2009. Police seized 125 grams of methamphetamine and $12,500 in cash.
Police have issued arrest warrants for a Salem Township couple, Dominic M. Cesare, 27, and Janelle N. Cesare, 28, of 201 Route 66, who are accused of running a large indoor marijuana growing operation. During a May 12 raid, police said, they confiscated 40 plants, 13 ounces of high-quality, processed marijuana, a small amount of cocaine and $15,000 worth of growing equipment.
Arrest warrants were issued for Moncella "Lady" Dowdell, 39, of 7875 Thon Dr., Verona, for alleged delivery of heroin and cocaine; Kenneth Kralik, no age available, of 4512 Black Lick Road, Blairsville, on charges of possession of OxyContin; and Austin G. Williams, 51, of 158 Winetown Road, Slickville, for alleged possession of crack cocaine.
Police are seeking information on Dean E. Krieger, 27, of 745 N. Center Ave., Apt. 3, Somerset, for alleged delivery of crack cocaine; Scott A. Miller, 26, of 231 Broadway St., Meyersdale, for alleged delivery of heroin; Leonard S. Lewand, 28, of 528 Tukosk St., Tarrs, for alleged delivery of marijuana; Tracy Huffman, 35, of 170 Coleman Road, Saltsburg, for alleged possession with intent to deliver; and Carrie Larese, 31, of 204 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Greensburg, for alleged possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
Kuzilla said anyone with information on the suspects should telephone state police at 724-832-3288.
Among those arrested were Breichet M. Houge, no age available, of 261 St. Mary St., Loretto, who was charged with possession of marijuana and methamphetamine; Simon W. Johns, 35, of 2 School St., Delmont, possession of marijuana; Matthew M. Gnagey, 31, of 558 Goucher St., Rear, Johnstown, possession with intent to deliver; Willie L. Dennis Jr., no age available, and Heaven Whitaker, 21, both of 905 Gomper Ave., Apt. R, Indiana, for allegedly selling a look-alike drug resembling cocaine; Steven Fink, 24, of 101 Pauline Dr., Apt. 3, Saltsburg, conspiracy to deliver drugs; Donna Lee McQuire-Treese, no age available, of 534 Marshall Heights Road, Black Lick, possession with intent to deliver drugs; Daniel Bugay, 23, of Indiana, possession and delivery of cocaine and heroin, and Stephen Stedrak, 26, of 111 Beverly Court, Apollo, possession of heroin.
Also arrested were Michael L. Merkel, 22, of 440 South Center Ave., Somerset, for alleged delivery of crack cocaine; Michael L. Phillips, 24, of 101 Keystone St., Meyersdale, on charges of delivery of heroin; Tammy Carr, 39, of 101 Keystone St., Meyersdale, conspiracy to deliver cocaine; Carl Wesley Teets, 27, of 7833 Mason Dixon Highway, Meyersdale, delivery of heroin; Frank J. Chain, 30, of 351 S. Quarry St., Mt. Pleasant, for delivery of cocaine, and Gregory G. Shahan, 32, of 711 Eastmont Drive, Apt. C, Greensburg, for delivery of heroin and methadone; and James Peppler, 52, of 101 Pauline Dr., Apt. 3, Saltsburg, on charges of possession with intent to deliver marijuana.
Also arrested were Jeff Lucas, 48, of 312 Seminary Drive, Greensburg, for delivery of OxyContin; Jeffrey Thomas Sr., 26, of 40 Alwine Ave., Greensburg, for delivery of heroin; Keith Hutchison, 35, of 110 Center St., Bradenville, for manufacturing marijuana; Karen Jordanhazy, 54, of 14292 Jonathan Drive, North Huntingdon, delivery of non-controlled substances; James E. Pees, 47, of 208 Westminster Ave., Greensburg, for delivery of heroin, cocaine and marijuana; Steven A. Howard Sr., 38, of Jeannette, for delivery of crack; Gregg E. Sargent, 52, of 18 A, West Third St., Greensburg, for delivery of oxycodone and Vicodin, and George Katonka, 47, of 716 B Spring St., Latrobe, possession with intent to deliver.
Police have charged Derek Benedict, 23, of 16 Catherine Ave., Latrobe, with possession with intent to deliver; James Chinchock, 53, possession with intent to deliver; Kyle J. Polechko, 28, of 428 Flagstaff Drive, Greensburg, for possession of marijuana; Jessica Bales, no age, of 742 S. Main St., Greensburg, possession with intent to deliver; Dewayne Cohen, 48, of Pleasant Unity, possession with intent to deliver; Chris Swogger, 30, 215 Armburst Road, Youngwood, possession with intent to deliver; Gregory Kozemchack, 29, of 950 Second Ave., Pittsburgh, possession of heroin; and Gregory Nash, 50, unknown age and address, for possession of heroin and Xanax.