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Homestead man ordered to trial on drug counts

Chuck Biedka
| Thursday, July 21, 2016, 10:30 p.m.

A Homestead man was ordered Thursday to stand trial for allegedly having thousands of dollars worth of drugs when he was pulled over by police July 7 in Arnold.

Michael Maurice Fisher, 44, was pulled over in his 2005 Cadillac STS because, police said, the tint on his windows was too dark.

At a preliminary hearing Thursday, his attorney used that dark tint as part of Fisher's defense. Attorney Paul David Boaz argued that the traffic stop along the 500 block of Drey Street shouldn't have happened because an officer testified he could see the driver “in silhouette.”

Arnold Patrolman Wesley Biricocchi said that after the driver rolled down the window, he saw a plastic water bottle. He testified that the container had a false bottom that hid suspected crack cocaine.

Biricocchi called for a police dog to sniff out any other drugs. He testified that the search uncovered about $27,000 worth of illicit drugs, including powered and crack cocaine, heroin packets and marijuana.

Biricocchi said all of the drugs were in false-bottomed containers, such as a pop can, tire sealant, liquid wrench and bleach.

Boaz argued that the search for the drugs should not have occurred until after police got a search warrant. He asked New Kensington District Judge Frank J. Pallone Jr. to dismiss the powdered cocaine and heroin possession charges.

Boaz contended that police “didn't conclusively prove” Fisher had the drugs.

“We don't know if someone else had been in the car and had those items before they were dropped off by Mr. Fisher,” Boaz said.

He added that the drugs weren't obvious. A casual glance showed just a Mountain Dew can and the other containers, he said. Nor do police have DNA or fingerprints tying Fisher to the containers or drugs.

Boaz said Fisher didn't act like a drug dealer. He pulled over immediately when he saw the police car's flashing lights, he gave Biricocchi permission to look inside the car and Fisher voluntarily admitted that he didn't have insurance on the vehicle.

“What we have was a guess that there were drugs in the car,” because drugs weren't seen or detected by odor before the search, Boaz said.

Assistant District Attorney Anthony S. Iannamorelli Jr. argued that the stop and resulting search were legal, as was the search that revealed the false-bottomed cans.

Pallone held for court four felony drug delivery charges, five misdemeanor drug charges and two vehicle code offenses.

Fisher was released on $150,000 bond the day after his arrest. Fisher was out on bond for three drug cases in Allegheny County at the time of his arrest.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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