Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

 

November 1, 2006

Attorney General Corbett announces arrests in "Operation Failing Grade;" nine university students charged in Mansfield cocaine & marijuana ring

Operation-Failing-Grade1-366x244MANSFIELD - Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced that Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement are in the process of arresting nine current or former Mansfield University students accused of trafficking as much as $500,000 worth of cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs.

Corbett said the 16-month long investigation, known as "Operation Failing Grade," focused on the alleged sale of bulk quantities of cocaine, marijuana and the prescription pain-killer OxyContin.  Evidence and testimony about the alleged drug sales was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.

Corbett said the grand jury identified the principal figures in the drug organization as William Anthony Millsip, 21, 7019 Wheeler St., Philadelphia and Rodney Tyshawn "Rock" Smith, 21, 3019 N. 23rd St., Philadelphia. 

Operation Failing GradeAccording to the grand jury, Millsip and Smith operated a drug organization that generated a monthly supply of as much as one-half kilo of cocaine and five pounds of marijuana for numerous current or former students at the university during 2005 and 2006.  Millsip and Smith were allegedly roommates during that period.

The grand jury found that Millsip and Smith obtained bulk quantities of powder cocaine and marijuana from suppliers in Philadelphia and other locations. The drugs would then be divided it into smaller quantities for resale to drug dealers and students in the Mansfield area. 

Corbett said the grand jury identified several other drug dealers as part of the organization, including Chad Blanchard, of Towanda; Jason Brion, of Mansfield; Al Monroe Jr., of Pittsburgh and Vernon Reid, of Philadelphia.  Three New York State residents were also identified as part of the organization, including Jacob Houck, of Bradford, NY; Olufemi "Femi" Ogundele, of Painted Post, and Laura Bliznik, of Binghamton.

At the time of the investigation, all these individuals, with the exception of Jason Brion, were students at Mansfield University.  Jacob Houck graduated from the university shortly before the investigation began.

Corbett said the grand jury found that Millsip and Smith would often provide cocaine or marijuana to other students "on the front," or in advance of payment, with the agreement that they would be paid after the drugs were sold.  Individuals who were unable to pay for the drugs were allegedly threatened with weapons, physically assaulted or pressured into selling larger quantities of drugs in order to repay the drug suppliers.

Operation-Failing-Grade5-366x244According to the grand jury, one student who allegedly had two ounces of cocaine stolen from his dormitory room was threatened by Millsip when he was unable to pay for the drugs.  That student later agreed to transport Smith to Philadelphia several times, in order to pick up cocaine, as a method of satisfying his drug debt.

Corbett said the grand jury found that between July 14, 2005 and June 6, 2006, Pennsylvania State Troopers made 29 controlled buys or undercover purchases totaling more than $17,000 of cocaine, marijuana and OxyContin from members of the organization. The drug transactions allegedly occurred at apartments, parking lots, fast food restaurants and other locations in and around Mansfield, as well as on the university campus.

Corbett said the criminal charges were filed today before Mansfield Magisterial District Judge James E. Carlson.  The case will be prosecuted in Tioga County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Douglas J. Wright of the Attorney General's Drug Strike Force Section.

Corbett thanked the Pennsylvania State Police, Mansfield Borough Police Department and Mansfield University Police for their assistance with this investigation.

Below is a list of the defendants and the charges filed against them:

William Anthony Millsip, 21, 7019 Wheeler St., Philadelphia, is charged with two counts each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  He is also charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and two counts of simple assault.

Rodney Tyshawn "Rock" Smith, 21, 3019 N. 23rd St., Philadelphia, is charged with four counts each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  He is also charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Chad Blanchard, 21, RR#4 Box 286, Towanda, is charged with 16 counts each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  He is also charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Jason Paul Brion, 21, 2471 Kellytown Road, Mansfield, is charged with seven counts each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  He is also charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Al David Monroe Jr., 21, 8604 Bricelyn St., Pittsburgh, is charged with two counts each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  He is also charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and one count of simple assault.

Vernon Ali Reid, 22, 5146 Ludlow St., Philadelphia, is charged with seven counts each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  He is also charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Jacob J. Houck, 23, 3271 West Lake Road, Bradford, NY, is charged with three counts each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  He is also charged criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Olufemi "Femi" Ogundele, 21, 156 Beartown Road, Painted Post, NY, is charged with two counts each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  He is also charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Laura Bliznik, 21, 7 Lennox Drive, Binghamton, NY, is charged with one count each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.  She is also charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

# # #