Suspected Tarentum heroin dealer remains on the run
An accused drug dealer played a role in a preliminary hearing Wednesday even though he's still on the run.
Police allege suspected heroin dealer Jose Antonio Molina stayed in an apartment at 217 West Seventh Ave., Tarentum, with Courtney Garritano, 27, and Gustave Cramer Jr., 31. And police say the two others were involved in selling heroin, too.
At the hearing before Brackenridge District Judge Carolyn Bengel, police testified that Molina and Garritano stayed in the bedroom of the one-bedroom unit and Cramer crashed on the living room couch.
Their defense attorneys argue that just because they resided with Molina, also known as Molina-Delgado, doesn't mean that numerous packets of heroin found scattered about the apartment was their clients'. Police tell a different tale. They say they found 180 heroin packets, cocaine and more than $8,600 in cash, plus almost $500 more in counterfeit money when they searched the apartment.
When police searched a car Molina was using, they allegedly found another 2,500 heroin packets and two stolen pistols.
Additional information about Molina is in a search warrant that has been sealed by a judge, said Tarentum Detective Sgt. Mark Glogowski. As police continue to search for Molina, who is known to have associates in Philadelphia and New Jersey, attorneys for Garritano and Cramer tried unsuccessfully Wednesday to get their charges dismissed.
“She's not a drug dealer. She's a drug user,” argued Garritano's attorney, Kevin Abramovitz.
Attorney Larry Kustra said the 180 heroin packets, money and counterfeit bills were only found in the bedroom where Molina and Garritano stayed, not Cramer.
At their hearing, new details surfaced about why the Attorney General's drug task force raided the house.
Tarentum Patrolman Kurt Jendrejewski testified police found $5,000, a stolen .380-caliber pistol and .380 ammunition inside a locked safe in the bedroom closet.
He said Molina will be charged with having the stolen gun.
During the search, police found about $2,700 in one pocket and $250 in another pocket of men's shorts found in the room.
“We also found some synthetic marijuana above the refrigerator in the kitchen,” Jendrejewski testified. Harrison Patrolman Brian Turack testified he found almost $600 in cash in a pocket of the sweatpants Cramer was wearing.
In addition, police said they found about $480 in counterfeit bills, all of which have the same serial number.
Abramovitz argued that there is no evidence that Garritano had anything to do with the counterfeit money and she didn't have a key to the safe. Kustra argued that there isn't evidence that Cramer had access to anything not in the living room.
Charges held, treatment encouraged
Bengel ordered Garritano to stand trial for possession and sales of heroin, having drug paraphernalia as well as synthetic marijuana, and Suboxone, which is often used by people trying to kick a heroin addiction. She dismissed a conspiracy charge. Bengel agreed to reduce Garritano's bond from $20,000 to $100 if she is released from the Allegheny County Jail provided that she immediately be admitted to an inpatient drug treatment program.
But her attorney said Allegheny and Westmoreland counties have detainers on her, so it's unlikely that Garritano will be released for treatment.
Cramer was ordered to stand trial for conspiracy involving the counterfeit money, sales and possession of heroin, synthetic marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. His bond remains set at $20,000.
However, a detainer has been filed on Cramer because at the time of his arrest he was on probation after serving time in a state prison, Assistant District Attorney Robert Heister said.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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