Meth lab suspect facing 15 years in prison
Last year, Brandon Watterson, 39, of Apollo allegedly taught others to make the illegal drug methamphetamine in the borough and Parks Township and started to sell it in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
Now he is behind bars awaiting sentencing in September.
Originally facing with a total of 58 charges, Watterson waived his case to court in May.
Now, instead of going to trial, Watterson has accepted a plea bargain.
In exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of making meth and one of operating a meth lab, the other 56 charges were withdrawn by the prosecution.
The prosecution is recommending that he serve 7 1⁄2 to 15 years in a state prison, according to a prosecutor and court records.
Watterson is in the Armstrong County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail awaiting a county judge to render his sentence in mid-September.
Defense attorney Bob Cinpinski said he has "some issues" that he will present to the judge in a bid to reduce Watterson's sentence. He declined to elaborate.
Watterson, named as the "cooker" of the enterprise, was among eight people arrested in April 2011 -- about a month after two raids by Armstrong County and state drug agents and police.
"We're satisfied with the sentence compared to the others in this case," said Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi. "He admitted his role."
Under Watterson's direction, two meth labs -- both posing a risk of explosion or fire -- were set up. One that was in a house at 508 N. Sixth St., Apollo, was within sight from a children's daycare center.
The meth-making process continued at a house at 3240 Garvers Ferry Road, Parks, even though two children lived there.
At last one child was exposed to the dangerous process and fumes from the lab at the Apollo house, where Watterson was arrested.
The other seven suspects were arrested in Parks, Vandergrift, Apollo and Allegheny Township.
According to police and state drug agents, the method used at the two labs used a myriad of items including brake cleaner, battery acid, drain cleaner and the chemical pseudoephedrine, which is commonly found in cold pills.
Some of the suspects bought cold pills containing pseudoephedrine in Apollo, Harrison, Leechburg, Lower Burrell, Pittsburgh Mills in Frazer, Ross and Vandergrift.
Watterson served time in federal prison in the 1990s for mail-ordering the chemicals needed to make methamphetamine.