While it wasn't the witching hour, the bells did toll at 8 p.m. Tuesday for an alleged Tamaqua drug dealer. That's when law enforcement personnel executed two warrants at 345 E. Union St., flooding the black night with red, white and blue swirls of light.
The lights flared to life at the same time officers broke through a locked screen door, after their knock at the door was refused. Several officers had the rear of the home secured, then gained entry too. Those fleeting moments between the knock and entry were enough time for the suspect, Alden Richard Whately, 45, to attempt to flush contraband down the toilet. His effort was for naught, as officers were able to retrieve the items.
The warrants were issued Tuesday by District Judge Stephen Bayer, after Tamaqua Police Cpl. Richard Weaver and Patrolman Anthony Stanell provided him with evidence concerning two alleged drug sales involving Whateley. Those incidents occurred on March 16 and 18. A third drug buy was made earlier in the day Tuesday and Whateley will face additional charges stemming from that event.
Officers took everyone in the home into investigative custody and called for an ambulance for one occupant, who was suffering from shortness of breath. She was transported to St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, by Tamaqua Community Ambulance personnel. In addition to Whately, officers transported three females and one male to the police station for questioning. Three packets of suspected drugs were found in the sock of one of the women, Candace Fillion of Tamaqua, who was transported to the hospital later in the evening, complaining of heart palpitations. Charges will be filed against her at a later date.
Whately was then arraigned before Bayer on felony charges of delivery of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver (two counts each) and two misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance. While the judge was explaining the arraignment process and the severity of the delivery charges, Whately explained he needed to care for his wife, who is awaiting a lung transplant. He also added he "is an addict and was selling drugs to support that habit." The judge cautioned him about waiving his right to remain silent, but the defendant persisted, saying "I did it. I'm guilty."
Bayer set bail at $50,000 straight cash on each set of charges. Unable to post the required $100,000, Whately was immediately transported to the Schuylkill County Prison, Pottsville.
Assisting Stanell and Weaver with the drug raid were Tamaqua Patrolmen Tom Rodgers, Matt Bynon and Karl Harig; Tamaqua Police Chief Dave Mattson; three members of the Schuylkill County Drug Task Force; Pennsylvania State Trooper Ron Kazakavage and K-9 Rommy; Schuylkill County Constable Charles Rodgers; Coaldale and Rush Township Police and Tamaqua Ambulance personnel.