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Pittsburgh man held for trial in Port Vue heroin case

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 4:16 a.m.

A Pittsburgh man will be tried on charges that he had 90 packets of heroin on him — and hid more than 1,000 more under a large pine tree in Port Vue.

James Perrin, 35, of the city's Arlington section was bound over Tuesday on all counts by Magisterial District Judge Armand Martin in Glassport.

In all, police said there were 1,250 packets the Allegheny County crime lab confirmed to contain heroin.

Defense attorney Fred Rabner offered no argument about the 90 packets police said they found on his client at the time of his arrest, along with $441 in cash, but said “it is a stretch” to link Perrin to the larger amount. “Circumstantially, he was seen running in the same area (as the tree),” Allegheny County assistant district attorney Jonathan Lusty argued.

“Charges will be held as filed,” Martin said.

The pine tree was about eight houses away from where Perrin was parked along the 900 block of Romine Avenue on March 14 around 7:30 a.m.

“It was like a Christmas tree, a big one,” Port Vue police Chief Bryan R. Myers testified.

Perrin was seen sleeping in his sport utility vehicle — and then tried to elude arrest by Port Vue and other Mon-Yough police.

McKeesport and Glassport police were cited in testimony before Martin. Liberty, Lincoln and Elizabeth officers were credited as well after Perrin's arrest.

“I noticed he was in a deep sleep,” Port Vue police Officer Jodi Leitzell said during direct examination by Lusty.

A construction crew working nearby told her they didn't know who he was, so she awakened Perrin, who told her, “I'm getting gas.”

She said she replied, “This is not a gas station,” and he went back to sleep. She woke him up again and asked, “Where's home?”

“Up the street,” she quoted Perrin as replying.

Leitzell said she asked Perrin for his driver's license and he said, “Man, I don't have a license.”

“I started patting him down for officer safety,” Leitzell testified. She managed to get one handcuff on him but, “he started reaching in the vehicle.”

And then he took off, only to be apprehended a short time later near Washington Boulevard.

The larger amount of heroin was found after Perrin was taken into custody — and Myers said he found something else during a subsequent search “three or four days later” for a gun or other evidence.

“I recovered a wristband from Allegheny County Jail with Mr. Perrin's name and the date and time that officers took him in,” Myers testified.

Pressed under cross-examination by Rabner, Myers said, “I used to work at the county jail. I went down to the county jail and one of the (corrections officers) recognized it.”

Perrin is out of jail, free on $50,000 bond.

He will have a formal arraignment in Pittsburgh on June 24 at 11 a.m. on a felony count of possession of heroin with intent to deliver, a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest and summary counts of disorderly conduct and driving with a revoked or suspended license.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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