One of the most troubling parts of the War on Drugs is the way that it can divide families. In a recent case in Clearfield, an alleged member of a Houtzdale cocaine distribution ring received a lighter sentence because he has been cooperating in the prosecution of his mother. The mother, Pamela G., has demanded a jury trial to prove her innocence.
She doesn't seem to have been deeply involved in the cocaine ring, if the Centre Daily Times' report about the grand jury indictment is accurate. The grand jury found that several members of the family participated in selling cocaine to a confidential informant. These included:
- Todd A., who allegedly bought the cocaine in Beaver Falls and sold to the informant
- Robert G., who allegedly sold to the informant
- Catherine A., Robert G.'s sister and Todd A's wife, who allegedly sold to the informant
- Leroy B., Todd A.'s uncle, who allegedly sold to the informant and who, police claim, was found in possession of 28 grams of cocaine, over $2,700 in cash and checks, an "owe sheet" describing money owed by Todd A., several cellphones and some drug paraphernalia.
During a previous search of Leroy B.'s apartment in June, police say they found 46 grams of cocaine, a scale and baggies.
Leroy B. apparently told police that the source of the cocaine was his nephew, Todd A. The nephew pled guilty and was sentenced to between eight and 16 years in state prison.
It is unclear exactly what role Pamela G. may have played in the alleged conspiracy. According to the Times, she was not among those who either bought the cocaine or sold it to the informant.
Robert G. either pled or was found guilty of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, criminal use of a communication facility, and criminal conspiracy. He was sentenced to between 11-1/2 months and almost two years in the Clearfield County Jail. But for his cooperation, he might have been sent to state prison.
Unfortunately, when prosecutors give a lighter sentence to a defendant in order to obtain their cooperation against others, there is a serious chance that the defendant will exaggerate or even fabricate evidence to please the prosecution and earn the reward.
It's also crucial to remember that grand jury allegations are not evidence of guilt. Prosecutors present their strongest case to the grand jury in order to show they have probable cause to charge the defendants -- and that is all the grand jury decides. The defense doesn't even participate in grand jury proceedings.
A February trial for Pamela G. had to be postponed due to a key witness's illness. A new date has not been set.