Former prison guards won't face drug charges
Charges against four Indiana County Prison guards accused of illegal drug dealings will not be prosecuted by the county's District Attorney's Office.
District Attorney Robert Bell entered nolle prosequi motions on all the charges in each of the guards' cases to the effect that he does not intend to go any further with prosecution.
The legal term does not equate to an acquittal, and the four could be re-indicted at a later date. Bell did not return phone calls made seeking an explanation for the move.
Steven Barbus, 31, of 3265 Climax Road, West Wheatfield Township; Troy Mack, 28, of 21 Jones St., Robinson; Robert Lichtenfels, 29, of 179 Caroline St., Robinson; and Richard Harshberger, 35, of 304 Gibson Farm Road, Blacklick Township, were charged by the state Attorney General with drug possession and possession with intent to deliver.
The charges came against the four guards mostly as the result of a notarized, 17-page statement sworn to by William Hunt, a former county inmate.
After agents at the Attorney General's Office interviewed the four separately, Barbus and Mack allegedly confessed and, along with Lichtenfels, implicated Harshberger in the scheme.
Lichtenfels maintained his innocence when interviewed, but was implicated by Hunt and further interviews, according to affidavits.
A search warrant served on Harshberger's home revealed hashish, a hash pipe and a total of about 150 OxyContin and oxycodone tablets.
Lichtenfels and Mack referred questions to their attorneys. Lichtenfels' lawyer, Matthew Kovacik, was unavailable. Mack's attorney did not return phone calls, nor did Barbus. A phone number for Harshberger was disconnected.
Bell did file information seeking the prosecution of Tina Marie Lord, 29, of 252 Patchen Road, Montgomery Township, also charged by the Attorney General. Affidavits say Lord, an Indiana Borough police dispatcher, warned a friend that he was being investigated by the police.
The investigation came about after a drug sweep in August that targeted low-level dealers in the Route 22 corridor from Monroeville to Altoona.
All four guards have resigned from their positions as corrections officers. Lord's termination date was given by the county personnel office as Nov. 4.
County Warden Carol Wilson, who cooperated in the investigation, said the four guards were suspended in November.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alamo named as World Heritage site by United Nations
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Pirates claim Ishikawa off waivers; Marte injured
- Pittsburgh singer Lee spreads love through music, charitable works
- High tax could scuttle online gaming in Pa., CEO says
- United States takes down Japan, wins third Women’s World Cup
- More than 120,000 attend Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival
- Apple Hill Playhouse takes on an updated ‘Snow White’
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Man charged with passing counterfeit bills at Rivers Casino