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'Operation Golden Dope' ringleader sentenced

Published November 28. 2012 08:39AM

A Carbon County man was sentenced to a state prison term on Monday for his part in a burglary/drug ring that operated in a multicounty area.

Frank Munoz, 51, of Nesquehoning, was sentenced by President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II to a total of 42 to 84 months in a state prison, followed by three years of probation. Munoz previously pleaded guilty to four burglary and criminal conspiracy to commit-burglary counts, along with charges of simple assault and possession of a controlled substance.

Munoz was among 12 charged in connection with what the state Attorney General's office called "Operation Golden Dope."

The ring was accused of committing burglaries in Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill counties. The stolen items would then be sold at pawn shops in Carbon and Lehigh counties, with the money used to purchase illegal drugs in the Allentown area. The drugs were then sold in Carbon and other counties for profit.

At the time of the announced arrests in April 2010, authorities labeled Munoz the ringleader of the group. Among those arrested was Munoz's wife, Janet Munoz. She has pleaded guilty to her part in the ring and is awaiting sentencing.

Yesterday Munoz denied being the ringleader of the drug part of the operation, but admitted he planned and was in charge of the burglaries the ring committed.

Nanovic, reviewing the arrest report, told Munoz, "This report says you were the main player." Munoz again denied being involved in the operation that included the selling of the drugs.

He said he was in charge of the burglary ring. He said his wife worked for a doctor and supplied him with information when the victims' of the break-ins would not be home. He said that was when the ring would burglarize the homes.

Nanovic told Munoz he caused a lot of pain for a lot of people who were the victims of the entries.

Munoz said at the time he didn't care about the victims, claiming his drug addiction was the blame. He said since he has been in jail and clean of drugs, he is now remorseful for what happened and feels sorry for those he affected.

"I am very sorry," he said.

The burglary pleas were all related to the ring activities. The possession plea was for an incident in Nesquehoning when he was stopped by borough police and found drugs. That occurred on June 22, 2009.

The simple assault plea was for an incident that occurred on Feb. 8, 2009, also in Nesquehoning, in which Zachary Leinhard was the victim.

In addition to the jail term and probation period, Munoz must make total restitution of $8,530.66, which is his proportionate share. The restitution is shared among all those charged in the case.

He was also ordered to supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee, get a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, zero tolerance imposed on D&A use, and have no contact with any of his co-defendants or victims, except his wife.

He was given credit for time spent in jail from April 26 2010, to the present. Munoz has been in custody since the date the Attorney General's agents and local police rounded up the 12 suspects.

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