Two drug dealers, one part of a major cocaine trafficking ring, entered guilty pleas in Carbon County court on Thursday with one immediately sentenced to a state prison and the other facing a state prison sentenced at a later date.
Michael A. Dennis, 42, of East Patchogue, N.Y., and Martin Arias, 30, of Hazleton, both pleaded before President Judge Roger N. Nanovic to drug counts stemming from two separate incidents. Defendants in other pending drug cases also entered guilt pleas.
Dennis was part of a major trafficking ring that operated in Carbon and Lehigh counties. Agents of the state Attorney General's office along with state and local police conducted a roundup of nine persons in February 2009. Dennis and his nephew, also Michael Dennis, were labled at the ring-leaders of the organization.
To date most of those charged have entered guilty pleas and have been sentenced.
Dennis tried to tell Nanovic that his nephew was the leader of the group and he was only involved in the operation for a few months before his arrest. Nanovic referred to the report of the investigating agents of the AG office and said it indicated Dennis was with his nephew in the operation for a longer period of time and was one of the "bosses" in the operation.
Nanovic also noted that Dennis has prior drug convictions and served a lengthy jail term in New York state in 1999 for drug dealing.
Nanovic sentenced him to serve 33 months to six years in prison followed by three years of probation. He was also ordered to supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee, get a drug and alcohol (D&A) evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment. He was given credit for 108 days spent in jail on the charges.
Truck stop sale
Arias was arrested on March 11, 2008, at the Hickory Run Truck Stop in Kidder Township.
Agents of the AG office had set up a controlled buy at the truck stop with Arias. A search of the vehicle resulted in 56 grams of powedered cocaine being found.
Assistant District Attorney Jean Engler said the Commonwealth was going to invoke the mandatory provisions of the state drug law meaning Arias faces a minimum state prison term of three to six years.
Nanovic deferred sentencing and ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation (PSI).
Other defendants to entered pleas to drug charges included:
Johnathon N. Maury, 21, of Lansford, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a controlled substance-heroin. In another case he pleaded to a count of theft.
Nesquehoning police arrested Maury on the drug charge on June 22, 2009, in a area along Willow St. At a vehicle stop Maury was the passenger and was found to have heroin on him which he had just purchased.
The theft count stems from a Aug. 20, 2009, incident in Lansford where he took a Playstation III from the residence of Thomas Almeida along W. Water St.
Maury admitted to a long term drug addiction problem dating back two years. He said he went to a detox center in Pittsburgh and will begin drug counseling with the county drug and alcohol treatment program.
On the drug charge Nanovic sentenced him to serve one to 12 months in jail followed by one year of probation. On the theft charge one year probation consecutive to the other sentence.
He was also ordered to get a D&A evaluation, zero tolerance on D&A use, and render 15 hours of community service. He was given credit for 14 days spent in jail on the charges. He will begin the jail term on Monday, March 29, at 9 a.m.
Ashley Roberts, 25, of Weissport, entered pleas in two pending cases. She pleaded to one count each criminal use of a communication device in a drug tranaction, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft and receivingn stolen property.
The drug charges stem from a Sept. 12, 2009, incident when she contacted a person by cell phone to make a sale of heroin. That person contacted Franklin Township police. The sale was set up for an area along SR2015. When Roberts arrived on scene she spotted police and fled in her vehicle. After a short chase she was apprehended and taken into custody. She admitted throwing a bag of drugs out the car during the chase.
The thet and receiving counts stem from a July 11, 2009, incident in Lehighton. She took the ATM card of Keith Breiner and used it to take $363.
Roberts, who is the mother of five children, admitted to a long term drug abuse problem. She also said that four of her children have been taken away from her after she gave up parental rights. The fifth is being cared for by her parents.
She also told the court she has been involved in drug use since the age of 14. She also has history of arrests for various offenses.
On the communication device charge Nanovic sentenced her to serve three to 18 months in prison followed by two years of probation. She was ordered to supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee, get a D&A evaluation, zero tolerance on D&A use, and must get her General Education Diploma (GED). On the possession count Nanovic imposed a fine of $500 and costs.
On the theft and receiving counts she was placed on probation for a year running consecutive to the drug charges. She must make restitution of $363 to the victim.
She was given credit for 117 days spent in jail on the charges and paroled pending a prelease plan.
John Card, 39, of Lansford, pleaded to one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested on March 15, 2009, when agents of the state AG office searched his home at 25 Jones St. and found marijuana and various items used for drugs.
Nanovic placed him on probation for a year and ordered he get a D&A evaluation.
All defendants must pay court costs and a $50 per month supervision fee while on probation or parole.