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Lower Burrell woman jailed on drug charges

| Friday, Aug. 27, 2004

LOWER BURRELL -- A district justice Thursday jailed a Lower Burrell woman who was the focus of a national TV segment about the death of a Las Vegas man in Honduras.

Leslie Ann Spiering, 31, of Watters Road was ordered held in the Westmoreland County Prison until her preliminary hearing Tuesday, District Justice Cheryl Peck Yakopec said.

Peck Yakopec said she revoked Spiering's $5,000 unsecured bond for several reasons.

She said Spiering did not attend a July 20 hearing on Lower Burrell drug charges, and she was arrested by New Kensington police early last Saturday for allegedly having crack cocaine and a crack pipe.

The drug arrest also means she violated pre-trial bond terms, Peck Yakopec said.

In an affidavit obtained Thursday, New Kensington and state police allege that Spiering had crack cocaine and a crack pipe when a car in which she was riding was stopped in East Deer just after midnight Saturday.

New Kensington Police Sgt. Steve Groark charged her with drug possession and with having drug paraphernalia. Spiering allegedly was told to report to District Justice Frank J. Pallone Jr.'s office in Arnold to be arraigned.

When she arrived Thursday, Pallone's staff learned that a felony warrant for not attending a preliminary hearing on drug charges had been issued for Spiering for drug charges in Lower Burrell.

A constable took Spiering to be arraigned by Peck Yakopec, who revoked her bond.

In the Lower Burrell drug case, Spiering is accused of selling 2.3 grams of crack cocaine to an undercover police officer for $250. The officer was working for the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force.

The alleged drug sale happened in a Clarendon Avenue driveway, police said.

On March 5, Spiering was sentenced to accelerated rehabilitative disposition after being convicted of prostitution and drug charges in the county, a county clerk said.

In July, police said the controlled drug buy at Clarendon Avenue happened before the sentencing.

Last spring, Spiering was the subject of a CBS "48 Hours" interview about the March 30, 2002, death of Randall Latona, 35, in Honduras.

Officials there classified the death a suicide, but Latona's family believes Honduran authorities will reopen the case.

According to published reports, Spiering told Honduran authorities she didn't hear the gunshot that killed Latona because she had been drinking and using drugs.

Published reports claim the two dated, then went separate ways until she visited him in his Honduras house a few weeks before his death.

The dead man's affluent family argues that his death wasn't a suicide and that he had a successful business.

The Latona family also has filed a wrongful death suit against Spiering.

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