Trio charged by state police in Western Pa. cocaine, marijuana sting |

Trio charged by state police in Western Pa. cocaine, marijuana sting

Paul Peirce

State police raided a clandestine drug preparation facility and confiscated more than two pounds of cocaine and 20 pounds of marijuana during a 15-month investigation into an alleged southwestern Pennsylvania distribution network, according to court records.

Investigators used confidential informants and surveillance that resulted in the arrests of a Fayette County couple and McKeesport man. They are accused of distributing large amounts of cocaine and marijuana throughout the region, according to court papers filed in Westmoreland County.

Jason A. Kujawa, 33, and Erica M. Hoak, 35, both of Bullskin Township, were arraigned on multiple counts of manufacturing, delivery and possession of controlled substances, possession of controlled substances, and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Gino J. Leber, 22, of McKeesport, is charged with manufacture, delivery and possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana.

According to court papers, state police in Greensburg received information last year that Kujawa and Hoak were selling “multiple pounds of marijuana and several ounces of cocaine” regularly from their property located along the border of Fayette and Westmoreland counties. The couple live on Sherrick Road, which is about seven miles south of Mt. Pleasant just off Route 119.

Troopers, assisted by Westmoreland County detectives and agents from the state attorney general’s office, on Jan. 24, 2018, set up a large marijuana purchase at the residence that was being watched by multiple surveillance teams, police reported.

A day later, troopers received information Kujawa was going to meet his marijuana supplier in Delmont. Several unmarked state police units followed as Kujawa drove his black 2014 Chrysler 300 sedan into a Walmart parking lot.

On the way, a state trooper stopped Kujawa along Route 66 in Hempfield after detecting him driving 85 mph in a 55 mph zone and making erratic lane changes, police reported.

Kujawa was “very cooperative” during the stop and told officers he had a loaded handgun in the center console that he had a permit to carry, police reported. Troopers retrieved the firearm and Kujawa denied having any other illegal items in the vehicle. He agreed to a search, police said.

Troopers discovered two “large balls of aluminum foil wrapped in a plastic bag in the glove box” containing about a quarter pound of cocaine, according to court documents.

“I asked Kujawa what this was. He then put his head down and said it was coke,” Trooper Paul Detruf wrote in court documents.

Police arrested Kujawa and continued to Walmart, where Leber was parked inside a gold Lincoln MKZ sedan.

Officers pulled Leber over near Salem Plaza as he was leaving the store’s parking lot and turned on to Route 22 without signaling, Detruf reported.

State police Cpl. John Isoldi said as he approached he “could smell the odor of raw marijuana from inside the vehicle.”

Police recovered 10 pounds of marijuana from Leber’s car.

Detruf reported Leber repeatedly said he had been set up. Leber was taken to the Greensburg barracks to be processed and while there Detruf said he asked him if he was referring to Kujawa.

“It’s his weed anyhow,” Detruf quoted Leber.

“(Leber), without question began reiterating over and over ‘a rat and it’s his weed anyhow,’” Detruf wrote.

During a search of Kujawa and Hoak’s residence, a trailer was discovered about 100 feet away and police found it “was set up as a manufacturing location for cutting, packing and bagging cocaine with additives for purposes of resale,” Detruf reported.

“The cabinets also contained digital scales, along with bags and vials for repackaging drugs. Inside the house, police found a combination safe where they confiscated about $60,000,” Detruf wrote.

Police recovered about two pounds of powder cocaine, 11-½ pounds of marijuana and multiple pills, including a stimulant, lisdexamfetamine, and an opioid hydrocodone, court documents said. Police found seven handguns and two shotguns in cabinets or gun safes throughout the house.

Preliminary hearings for Kujawa and Hoak, who are free on $100,000 unsecured bond each, are scheduled Aug. 2. A hearing for Leber is scheduled June 24. He was released on a recognizance bond.

None of the defendants could be reached for comment. Attorney Samuel Davis of Uniontown, who is listed in court dockets as representing Kujawa, and attorney Patrick Thomassey of Monroeville who is representing Leber, did not return messages. Hoak’s attorney, Michael Garafalo of Greensburg, declined comment.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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