Coaldale police on Tuesday nabbed four people in a drug bust at a house a stone's throw from the police station.
Michele L. Romig, 37; James Levan, 20; Tyler Strawdinger, 18; and Patrick Shoemaker, 21, all of 101 E. High St., face possession of liquified ammonia gas and other dangerous chemicals, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamines and related charges.
All four were arraigned before District Judge James R. Ferrier of Orwigsburg and each was jailed in Schuylkill County Prison, Pottsville, under $20,000 straight cash bail.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Officer Charles Blesse, here's what happened:
The bust unfolded at about 5 p.m., when officers from the Schuylkill County Adult Probation and Parole Department gathered in the borough to perform a residence check on Romig.
Romig is under the department's supervision as a condition of her enrollment in the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition program. Romig was admitted to the program in October, after being charged by the state Attorney General's Office with violation of public welfare. She placed in the ARD program for two years, ordered to pay fees, perform 20 hours of community service and make restitution of $11,230 to the Department of Public Welfare.
Officers arrived at the house and knocked on the door. After several minutes, an unknown male answered the door and let them in.
Upon entering the house, the officers saw Romig walking down the stairs from the second floor, and told her why they were there.
Romig was brought to the first floor and detained while the officers searched the house. During the search, they found several amounts of drug paraphernalia. In a further search of the third floor, Officer C.J. Begansky found a black bookbag containing several materials consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Begansky, who has been trained to recognize items used in clandestine meth labs, saw several bottles of Coleman fuel, tubing, funnels, and zip-lock plastic bags.
Begansky notified the other officers and terminated the search. The officers secured the house and removed the occupants for their own safety. Begansky then notified the county Drug Task Force and told detective Meisner what he had observed.
Begansky and Meisner entered the house and went to the third floor where the black bookbag was found. Meisner located the same materials Begansky had told him about. Through his training and experience in clandestine laboratory investigations, he believed the contents of the black bookbag were consistent with items used for making methamphetamine.
The bag contained sodium, Coleman fuel, funnels, tubing and drain cleaner.
At that time, a search and seizure warrant was obtained through Ferrier. Officers performing the search found 43 bags containing suspected heroin in the master bedroom. Other drug paraphernalia was located throughout the house. A box of Sudafed (which contains pseudoephedrine, which can be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine), was found in the kitchen.
Officers tested the suspected heroin at the police station, using a NIK testing kit. The substance was confirmed to be heroin. Suspected methamphetamine was also tested and confirmed.
On Monday, Coaldale Officer Jeremy Talanca had stopped Romig and Levan as the two were sitting in a sport utility vehicle outside the house. Both were highly intoxicated.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Talanca, Romig was in the driver's seat. Talanca had pulled up behind the SUV at 3:20 p.m. after receiving a report of loud music coming from the vehicle. As he approached the driver's side of the SUV, Romig and Levan began moving about and the music stopped. Talanca saw Romig take the keys out of the ignition and throw them into the back seat.
He asked her why she did that, and Romig told him he was lying and that he did not see her do that.
Talanca asked her to take a portable breath test and she agreed.
However, she refused to do the test properly. She was very unsteady on her feet and it began to rain heavily, so further testing was not an option.
Talanca arrested Romig for driving under the influence. Levan admitted to Talanca that he had been drinking.
Talanca advised Levan he would be getting charges in the mail and told him to go home and stay there.
Talanca took Romig to St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital in the borough for blood alcohol testing after reading her chemical test warning.
After the test, he took her home, and saw Levan walking at Third Street and Howard Avenue. He again told Levan to go back home.
The home at 101 E. High St. was the scene of a stabbing that took place last September. Details of that incident have yet to be released.