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'Largest drug bust in the county's history'

| Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2005

Fayette County law enforcement officials said Tuesday that they had conducted "the largest drug bust in the county's history."

Officials, in one day, issued approximately 70 arrest warrants.

According to Trooper Brian Burden, state police at Uniontown information officer, the warrants were issued for those involved in the sale of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana or prescription medications.

"Most warrants were for delivery or conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance," said Burden. They were for street- to mid-level drug dealers, he added. A few were considered "upper level" drug dealers for Fayette County.

Those considered mid-level dealers in Fayette County deal up to $10,000 in drugs.

The raid started at approximately 6 a.m., when 56 officers from various municipalities from throughout the county were briefed and dispatched in five teams. Four teams were sent to the northern part of the county; one large team was sent to the southern part.

"There are no boundaries in law enforcement in Fayette County today," said county District Attorney Nancy Vernon.

Cpl. Ronald Haggerty Jr., of the Connellsville City Police Department, said the 45 of the approximately 70 individuals had been apprehended.

The suspects were fingerprinted and processed in the basement of the East Side Fire Station in Connellsville and then taken to area district justices, where their bonds were set.

Those arrested were transported to the Fayette County Prison by the Fayette County Sheriff's office.

The drug bust was a result of a year-long investigation conducted by the State Police Troop B Vice Unit, the Fayette County Sheriff's Office and the Fayette County Drug Task Force. The task force is made up of 35 municipal police officers from all parts of the county. It is organized by the Fayette County District Attorney's Office.

"I asked for an arrest sweep to show the citizenry that law enforcement is active and involved with drug enforcement," said Vernon, adding the year-long investigation involved undercover work, undercover purchases, officers entering in dangerous places and conducting highly dangerous searches.

Sgt. Dave Heckman, of the state police at Uniontown, said nine undercover police officers were a part of the investigation, but did not take part in the raids to protect their identities.

Vernon said she couldn't anticipate when the remaining individuals would be apprehended. She admitted they may not all be apprehended in one day or two days.

"As long as it takes," said Vernon.

She added that she feels 70 warrants issued in one day is an impressive amount for a small county.

"I think that's a record," said Vernon. "I think it sends a message to the drug community to show them that we mean business."

List of suspects

As a result of a one-year investigation into violations of the Controlled Substance, Drug Device and Cosmetic Act, Prostitution and various other offenses, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Fayette County Drug Task Force and the Fayette County Sheriff's office were attempting to serve warrants Tuesday on approximately 70 individuals in the Fayette County area. Many of the investigations were jointly conducted by the Fayette County Drug Task Force and the Pennsylvania State Police Troop B Vice Unit. Most of the dealers are street- to mid-level with a few that are upper-level for the Fayette County area.

The drug sales Included: cocaine, heroin, marijuana and prescription medications.

The command post for this detail was the Connellsville Fire Station, located directly across Apple Street from the Connellsville Police Station.

Following is a list of Fayette County residents who were issued warrants:

Shelby Feniello, Caleb Langgle, James Cunningham, Mark Tressler, Francis Straughters, Gary Lewellen, Bart Yagla, Fred "Tony" Simon, Scott Lazar, Dale Gould, Jane Gould, Joseph Sherwood, Melissa Hall, Duane Brown, Andreas Key, Stanford Russell, Antwaun Bush, Dontay Stokes, Keith Thomas, Tyrone Brown, Dennis Stewart, Jamie Carraway, Michael Speddon, Thomas Teets, Joshua Snyder, Tabitha Steindl, Jeremy Showman.

Kenneth Showman, Aaron Jeffries, Frank Whipkey, Randy Cartwright, Jason Stasko, Barry Brooks, Theodore Turney, Dustin Banazak, Clarence Nicholson, Dawn Lilley, Maurice Sledge, William Fitzgerald, Jody Yauger, Carla Witherspoon, Gary W. Jordan, Preston Anthony Hill, Myron Maurice Moore, Danny Neil Jr., Joseph A. Brow.

Brian Brooms, Melvin Earl Campbell, Xavier Edward Thomas, Charles Richard Opel, Shannon Angel Stallard, James T. Michaux, Christie Verney, William Lee Friend, Charles Opel, Charles Smith, Donald Ohler, Donald "Junior" Henry, Mark Bell Jr., Melissa Faidley, Jason Motycka, Thomas Eperesi, Ronald Seiko, Lori Newman, Kara Lanphear.

Police said some individuals are still being sought and an updated list will follow. Ages and addresses of the suspects were not available.

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