Harmar police make 2 drug arrests as part of crackdown on crime
Police are trying to push crime out of Harmar's business district, which has benefits and drawbacks from being home to a Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange.
Being home to a Pennsylvania Turnpike exchange brings more than profits to Harmar's business district. It also means crime.
Township police are addressing the situation.
As part of a stepped-up effort, they arrested two alleged drug dealers on Tuesday.
Corey Allan Ziegler, 27, of 799 Guys Run Road, allegedly sold heroin from his residence and a Harmar restaurant, where he was working as a cook.
John Thomas Bokros, 61, of 1713 Kenneth Ave., Arnold, is accused of driving to Harmar businesses' parking lots to sell about $400 worth of heroin to an informant.
Ziegler was arrested at his house without incident just after 3 p.m. Three patrol cars, with two officers in each, backed up the arresting officer.
After allegedly spotting some marijuana inside the unit, other officers were attempting to get a search warrant approved.
Police made arrangements for a neighbor recommended by Ziegler to meet his child at the bus stop after school.
Bokros surrendered to police and was waiting at the police station when police Chief Jason Domaratz and the officers returned with Ziegler. Bokros is accused of selling 20 packets of heroin for $200 in June at an undisclosed location.
Each man is facing eight drug counts, each in a pair of cases.
Ziegler is accused of selling heroin out of his house and at his job at the Bob Evans restaurant off of Route 910 in Harmar. Arrest papers note an alleged drug sale in which Ziegler sold six packets of heroin worth $50 at an undisclosed location.
A number of Guys Run Road neighbors called police to complain about traffic at unusual times and a lack of parking spots because of people allegedly buying drugs, the chief said.
District Judge David J. Sosovicka arraigned both and set their bonds at $50,000 each pending preliminary hearings tentatively set for Sept. 8.
Part of a larger effort
Domaratz said his officers have been stepping up arrests.
Harmar police must deal with two facts of life: Internet sites that advertise prostitution and Pennsylvania Turnpike Exit 48.
The exit has numerous restaurants and at least five hotels and other businesses.
Domaratz learned from previous prostitution busts that some customers responding to online ads are directed by a subsequent phone call to one of the unsuspecting Harmar hotels.
Within the past week, police charged two women with prostitution, using cell phones in a crime, and two minor drug charges.
The accused are Rashawna Renee Zachery, 26, of Galena, Ohio, and Christa Jade Wilson, of McKees Rocks.
Three other women — one each from Easton, Pa., Columbus, Ohio and a 38-year-old woman from New Kensington — are awaiting charges for having a small amount of marijuana or drug paraphernalia.
This month, Harmar officers found about 4 ounces of uncut crystal methamphetamine in a hotel room. Some heroin was also found.
The crystal meth, which Domaratz said is rare in this area, has a street value of at least $4,000.
Police are continuing to investigate.
In another case, a traffic stop ended with police confiscating a man with 200 pills made to look like kids' vitamins.
“They had a Transformer character stamp on them,” Domaratz said.In reality, the pills were Ecstasy/MDMA, worth about $2,000 in the illegal drug trade.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “MDMA acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic, producing an energizing effect, distortions in time and perception, and enhanced enjoyment of tactile experiences.”
It can also cause “confusion, anxiety, depression, paranoia, sleep problems, and drug craving.”
Harmar has eight full-time and two part-time officers to patrol a little more than 6 miles of territory, in addition to backing up state police along Route 28.
“We won't be able to eliminate drug sales, but we are able to do what we can to control it,” Domaratz said. The police force works with the Allegheny County and state attorney general's drug task forces.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.