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Greensburg traffic stop yields $3K in heroin

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Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Two McKeesport men were jailed because officers who stopped their vehicle on Saturday evening discovered they had about $3,000 worth of suspected heroin, police said.

Gerald R. Lawrence, 23, and Shannon Williams, 18, were charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy. Greensburg police and Westmoreland County detectives made the traffic stop.

City police Detective Jerry Vernail and county Detective Tony Marcocci reported in an affidavit of probable cause that they received information from a confidential informant on Friday that two men were selling heroin from an apartment on North Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg, and the alleged distributors intended to return to the city to sell more heroin on Saturday.

City police conducted a traffic stop at West Pittsburgh Street and Westminster Avenue about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, according the affidavit.

“The occupants were patted down for officer safety, and Lawrence was found to have a white plastic bag in his right sock and pant leg. That bag contained 189 bags of heroin,” Vernail wrote in the affidavit.

Police subsequently discovered 50 small plastic bags of suspected heroin, called stamp bags, tucked in Williams' pants as he was processed, 50 bags in the area where he was sitting on the prisoner bench in the police station and 50 more bags tucked in the police cruiser where he sat as he was taken to the station.

In all, police recovered 334 stamp bags with a street value of $8 to $10 per bag.

Lawrence and Williams were ordered held in the county prison after failing to post $75,000 bond set by Night Court District Judge Frank Pallone.

Preliminary hearings are tentatively scheduled for Jan. 23 before Greensburg District Judge James Albert.

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