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Vandergrift-area woman pleads guilty to meth lab

A 34-year-old Vandergrift-area woman, who was arrested for mailing drugs to her jailed brother and for operating a methamphetamine lab in her home, pleaded guilty last week to charges stemming from both incidents.

Jessica Rae Conrad of 3420 Garvers Ferry Road pleaded guilty before Judge James J. Panchik on Thursday to felony charges of operating a methamphetamine lab and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. She is awaiting her sentencing.

Conrad and her brother, Herbert Norse Covey IV, were arrested in April last year when the Attorney General's Special Operating group and local police discovered the brother and sister were involved in the operation of a meth lab at the Garvers Ferry Road address.

Law enforcement officials found two preteen children living in the Parks house owned by Thomas and Jessica Conrad when they raided a lab there on March 24, 2011.

"The kids, they were having health issues," Dave Ellis, agent in charge of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's methamphetamine program, said. "They were having sinus issues, which is consistent with exposure in the lab."

While the terms "laboratory" or "lab" might invoke images of people in white coats working in a controlled, sanitary environment, Bob Ferguson, hazmat coordinator for McCutcheon Enterprises in Allegheny Township (Westmoreland County), said the clandestine labs are anything but.

"They are not making it in lab equipment, they are making it in pots and pans and dishes, and they are laying all over the place," Ferguson said. "It is like kids in kindergarten getting into finger paints -- they're spilling stuff all over the place."

In August, while Covey was serving his sentence in the Armstrong County Jail on charges related to that arrest, his sister mailed the drug Suboxone to him at his request.

According to the criminal complaint, Covey had initially mailed the letter marked "return to sender" to the Garvers Ferry Road address and instructed his sister to intercept the letter, place the drug in the envelope and mail it back to the jail.

Last month, Covey was sentenced by Panchik to serve six to 24 months on a felony charge of criminal solicitation. He was ordered to serve that sentence concurrently with the sentence of 24 to 96 months which he already had been serving from his April arrest. He was credited with 362 days served.

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