Detailed yesterday in the office of District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe was the trafficking of heroin in the area, what lengths some individuals will go to obtain money for the drug, how they selected their burglary victims, and how local pawn shops willingly bought the items obtained in the burglaries.
Hearings were held for five individuals charged with what the Pa. Attorney General's Office coined "Operation Golden Dope." Charges against the five were bound for Carbon County Court.
Seven other defendants waived their scheduled hearings to court.
The arrests of the 12 individuals occurred on April 20 in a roundup by local police and agents representing the office of Attorney General Tom Corbett.
Those arrested face various charges. All have been charged with corrupt organizations. All 12 defendants have been instructed to appear at a pretrial conference in Carbon County Court on July 8.
The hearings, held simultaneously, were for Robert Cesanek, 23, of Carbon County Prison; Wayne Thorpe, 45, of Carbon County Prison; Zack Lienhard, 19, of Nesquehoning; Waheeb Girgis, 55, of Lehighton, and Donald Dorward Sr., 64, of Lehighton.
The prosecutor is Assistant District Attorney Joseph Matika.
Only two individuals testified, one who the DA's office asked not to be identified for personal security reasons, and the other was Officer Timothy Wuttke of the Nesquehoning Police Department.
The burglaries to which reference was made occurred in various communities located in Carbon, Schuylkill, Northampton, and Lehigh counties in 2007 to 2009.
The "commonwealth witness" told how he was the drug dealer and made daily trips to Allentown, and even occasionally to New York City, to purchase heroin that he would resell. He said he sold it to Cesanek, Thorpe, and Lienhard, who would purchase it for their own personal use as well as for resale.
The witness said he, Thorpe, and Cesanek committed burglaries to support their drug habit.
It was testified that a woman employed by a doctor told him about the doctor vacationing in Arizona, setting him up for two burglaries. Once the witness acted alone in the particular burglary; the other time he did the act with Cesanek, he said.
Sometimes, said the witness, the burglars would target a house by driving around and looking for a driveway with no car in it. Then they would proceed to knock on the door and if there was no answer, they would kick-in the door.
Guns and TVs that were stolen in the burglaries were sold to private buyers.
Jewelry was taken to the two pawn shops, the witness said, where the pawnshop owners purchased them knowing the items were stolen.
The pawn shops were owned by Girgis and Dorward. Girgis is Arabian and can't speak English. He needed an interpreter, but the unidentified witness demonstrated his ability to speak Arabic.
The witness said he preferred doing business with Dorward, noting that Dorward paid him more for the items than Girgis.
Regarding the witness's relationship with Dorward, the witness testified, "We knew each other as Joe. I knew him as Joe and he knew me as Joe."
He said he made it clear to both Dorward and Girgis that the merchandise they were selling was stolen. He testified that Dorward told him, "I have no problem with that."
He said he told Dorward, "There can't be a paper trail because it's stolen."
Dorward allegedly responded to him, "Don't worry. It will be gone the next day."
Neither pawnshop owner registered the items, according to the witness. He said he always met Girgis at his store, while sometimes he would meet Dorward at his store and other times he would meet him in the parking lot of a Franklin Township motel.
The witness said he made trips daily to Allentown and would bring 40 to 50 bundles of heroin to the area. There are 10 bags per bundle, he said.
The heroin would be purchased from Victor Rodriguez, who is a defendant in Operation Golden Dope, and an individual he knew only as "Boo."
Lienhard apparently wasn't involved in the burglaries, but bought heroin for personal use and resale.
The price would be about $15 to $20 per bag, the witness said.
The witness testified, "I sold thousands of bags" each to Cesanek, Thorpe, and Lienhard.
It was also stated by the witness that he was imprisoned on other charges, but was released and provided with merchandise by investigators to sell to Dorward and Girgis. He said he was wired for the sales.