New Kensington man to stand trial in cocaine case
A New Kensington man, described by authorities as being a high-level cocaine dealer, is headed for criminal court after an Armstrong County district judge found the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence against him during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
All charges stemming from a December arrest in East Franklin against Robert Dale “Whitey” Damore, 47, will be held for court, said District Judge James Owen.
Damore has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal use of a communication facility.
Detective Frank Pitzer, area coordinator for Armstrong County Narcotics Enforcement Team (ArmNET), testified during the hearing that Damore allegedly sold 14.8 grams of powdered cocaine to a confidential informant for $1,600 at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 in a parking lot at the Franklin Village Mall.
Pitzer said the informant had made a call from the Armstrong County Courthouse to Damore at 11:54 a.m. During the phone call, Damore allegedly told the informant to meet him at the designated location in half an hour.
Public Defender Chuck Pascal argued that because the call had not been recorded and since Pitzer only heard one side of the call and that the word cocaine was not used by the informant during the phone conversation, the charge of criminal use of a communication facility should be dismissed.
Assistant District Attorney Chase McClister said it could be concluded that the informant had spoken with Damore by phone since the defendant showed up at that designated time and place.
According to Pitzer's testimony, the informant had been searched by narcotics agents before meeting Damore, was found to be free of any contraband and had $1,600 in official funds when he got into Damore's van Dec. 30. He said there was no other person in the van with Damore when the informant got in.
“All officers were watching Damore's vehicle,” said Pitzer, adding that there were 12 ArmNET agents at the scene.
At the moment when the informant exited the van and while Damore was still in the driver's seat, agents closed in, said Pitzer.
Pitzer said the informant had a clear plastic bag with the suspected cocaine in his possession, which he handed over to the agents. Damore had the $1,600 in his possession, which were the same recorded bills agents had provided to the informant, said Pitzer.
McClister said that from the testimony it could be concluded a drug delivery had occurred.
Owen did not reduce Damore's $100,000 bail as requested by Pascal.