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Arrests made in Tarentum drug raid

About Tom Yerace

By Tom Yerace

Published: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 10:42 a.m.

Three people have been charged after police say a predawn raid Friday in Tarentum turned up quantities of drugs and counterfeit currency.

State drug agents and local police who are part of the state Attorney General's Drug Task Force used search warrants at two West Tarentum residences, 217 W. Seventh Ave., Apt. A, and 808 Short St., about 6:30 a.m.

Arrest documents identified the people arrested at the West Seventh Avenue location as Courtney Garritano, 27, who lives there, and Gustave Cramer, 31, who told police he is homeless and whose last known address was in the 1500 block of Leishman Avenue, New Kensington.

Lawrence Leon Battle, 28, was arrested at the Short Street residence, where he was living, according to the documents.

At the West Seventh Avenue apartment, police said, they found 180 packets of heroin in a bedroom. Also, three packs of synthetic marijuana were found on top of the refrigerator and on the living room floor, along with rubber bands commonly used to wrap bundles of heroin.

A black gym bag, which contained Cramer's birth certificate and Social Security card, also contained $480 in counterfeit money, police said. A jacket found in the bedroom with Garritano's identification card in the pocket, also had a packet of heroin and 8 milligrams of Suboxone, a drug used to treat addiction to opiates, they said.

When police entered Battle's residence on Short Street, he was read his Miranda rights but agreed to talk to the police officers without a lawyer present, according to the arrest affidavit.

Battle showed police where he had crack cocaine stored in a sock inside a bedroom dresser drawer.

There were five rocks of cocaine individually wrapped for apparent sale, police said.

Battle was charged with one count of drug possession and one of possession with intent to deliver.

Cramer was charged with one count of forgery, one of possession with intent to deliver heroin, one of possession of drug paraphernalia and two of drug possession.

Garritano was charged with possession with intent to deliver heroin and two counts of drug possession.

All three were arraigned before Brackenridge District Judge Carolyn Bengel, who set the bail for each at $20,000 cash. They were sent to the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of bond to wait a preliminary hearing.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4657 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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