Jury finds Carbon man not guilty of most serious drug charges
After deliberating for about an hour and 15 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, a Carbon County jury panel found a county man not guilty of two of the most serious drug charges filed against him.
The panel found Donato A. Farole, 23, of Lehighton, not guilty of two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, both felonies. He was found guilty of one count of possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor. The verdict followed a two-day trial before Judge Steven R. Serfass.
Farole was accused of selling a 40 mg. Opana pill to Brett Flexer, 20, of Lehighton. The sale was allegedly made at a party held in a Mahoning Township home on the night of April 20, into April 23, 2011. Opana is a pain-killing drug.
Farole was not charged with the death of Flexer but in connection with selling him a narcotic.
Yesterday Farole took the witness stand and denied selling Flexer the pill.
The commonwealth, represented by Assistant District Attorney William E. McDonald, presented testimony from classmates of Farole and Flexer concerning the incident.
Called were three classmates from Lehighton High School who were at the party. However, none of the witnesses could testify that they actually saw Farole deliver the pill to Flexer.
During his testimony, Farole admitted becoming addicted to painkillers after he sustained a serious knee injury in 2007 while playing football at the high school.
He said his parents became aware of his addiction and attempted to help him. At first he tried to go "cold turkey" in getting off the painkillers but that didn't work. He then went to a doctor in the Philadelphia area, while he was attending Temple University, and he put him on the drug suboxone.
Farole also admitted on the day of the party, April 22, he was at school when he received a call from Anthony Pudah, of Lehighton, who wanted to pick him up and go to Brooklyn, N.Y., to get the drug Opana. Pudah previously told the jury he picked up Farole in a parking lot near the McDonald's restaurant in Mahoning Township to go to New York that day.
Farole said they went to New York where he met a person named "George." The man, Farole said, was his supplier of the pain-killing drug who he met through a fellow student at Temple.
After getting the drugs Pudah returned him to his home in Mahoning Township. Upon arrival home Farole said he took the bag containing the Opana pills and hid them behind the radio in his Dodge Avenger, which was parked outside his home.
He later got ready to go to the party.
He told the jury before leaving for the party he was confronted by his father. He said his father wanted to know why he had come home when it was previously decided that his family would pick him up on the morning of April 23 at Temple and they were going to Maryland for the weekend. He said April 22-23 was Easter weekend.
He also said his father was concerned about his struggles with drug addiction and he made him turn all his pockets inside out before he left to make sure he had no drugs.
When asked by defense attorney John Waldron, of Allentown, if he ever gave Flexer an Opana pill, he replied, "No sir."
Donata F. Farole, the defendant's father, testified that he did search his son's pockets prior to him going to the party because of his concern over his painkiller addiction.
The father also said after his son returned home April 22, he saw him go to his vehicle. He said when his son went upstairs to get ready for the party he went outside and searched his son's car and found the bag of pills.
He said he flushed the pills down the toilet.
Under cross-examination by McDonald, the elder Farole said he never said anything to his son about finding the bag of pills that day but was going to do it the next day.
Farole testified to his son's struggles with painkillers and that was why he was suspicious when his son returned home unexpectedly on April 22.
Prior to resting his case Wednesday morning, McDonald called two medical witnesses. Joann Sell, of the Health Network, testified concerning the tests done on blood samples taken from Flexer.
Dr. Barbara Bollinger, a forensic pathologist, testified she performed the autopsy on Flexer and ruled he died as the result of elevated levels of alcohol and a narcotic he had in his system.
Serfass deferred sentencing on the possession count.