November 3, 2006
Attorney General Corbett announces arrests in "Operation Fouled Out;" four Lock Haven University students & athletes charged in marijuana trafficking ring
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced that agents from the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI) and the Attorney General's Drug Task Force have arrested four Lock Haven University students, including two current and one former member of the university basketball team, accused of trafficking large quantities of marijuana in the Lock Haven area.
Corbett said the investigation, known as "Operation Fouled Out," began on Sept. 8, 2006 and focused on the alleged transportation of bulk quantities of marijuana from Philadelphia to Clinton County, along with the sale of drugs in and around Lock Haven University.
Corbett identified the principal figures in the drug organization as:
Rodney Armstrong Jr.
Matthew "Esh" Eshelman
Corbett noted that Kennedy and Armstrong are current members of the university basketball team while Dye is a former member of the team. Eshelman is a student at the university.
"Drug dealers need to understand that there's no place to hide in Pennsylvania," Corbett said. "If you're selling drugs - whether it's on a university campus or in any of our communities - we will find you and we will put you out of business."
Corbett noted that today's arrests are the second time this week that the Attorney General's Office has arrested university students involved in a drug distribution ring. On Wednesday, Nov. 1, nine current or former Mansfield University students were charged with selling cocaine and marijuana.
According to the criminal charges, Kennedy, Armstrong and Dye made regular trips to the Philadelphia area in order to purchase marijuana, often making several trips per week. The drugs were brought back to Clinton County for distribution and sale. The group was allegedly purchasing marijuana in Philadelphia for between $1,800 and $2,200 per pound, and later reselling it in Lock Haven for between $3,000 and $6,000 per pound, depending on the quantity being sold.
Corbett said that during a controlled purchase of marijuana on Sept. 18, 2006, Kennedy allegedly offered to sell some "really good marijuana," adding that it was "blueberry," "lemon base" or "tropical" and was selling very well to Lock Haven students.
According to the criminal charges, Kennedy delivered one-eighth ounce of marijuana during an exchange in a parking lot on the university campus on September 18, and then allegedly arranged to sell another "eighth" of the drug. That second transaction occurred a short time later, at the West Church Street residence that Kennedy shared with Armstrong and Dye.
Corbett said that during the second drug transaction, Kennedy allegedly spoke with Armstrong and gave him the money from the first drug sale. Armstrong entered the home and allegedly returned with the marijuana. Michael Dye was allegedly present at the time, at one point expressing concern that the drug buyer might be "wearing a wire" or working with police.
On Sept. 20, 2006, Corbett said that agents attempted to make another controlled purchase of marijuana from Kennedy, who allegedly claimed that they were out of marijuana, but were going to be "re-upping" and should have more drugs later that week.
According to the criminal charges, agents made a controlled purchase of one-quarter ounce of marijuana from Dye on Sept. 24, 2006. During that transaction Dye indicated that larger amounts of marijuana, such as an ounce or a quarter pound, were available, adding that "Rod" (Rodney Armstrong) was bringing "a s--- load" of marijuana back to Lock Haven.
Corbett said that on October 10, agents made a controlled purchase of .7 grams of marijuana from Matthew Eshelman at the West Church Street residence used by Kennedy, Armstrong and Dye. "Esh" allegedly agreed to sell a small amount to the agent because Kennedy was "out" of his stash and Armstrong was not home.
Corbett said that after the first drug sale in the university parking lot, all of the drug transactions occurred at the West Church Street home. Both of those locations are inside in drug-free school zones, which could result in a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years in prison.
Thursday afternoon BNI agents arrested Kennedy following a traffic stop in Lamar Township, Clinton County. At the time, Kennedy was allegedly returning from Philadelphia with a ½ pound of marijuana, which he had arranged to deliver to an undercover agent.
Following Kennedy's arrest, agents executed a search warrant on the West Church Street home shared by Kennedy, Armstrong and Dye, seizing drug packaging materials and a small amount of marijuana.
Armstrong and Dye were taken into custody at basketball practice last evening, while Eshelman was arrested last night at his off campus apartment.
Kennedy is charged with four counts each of delivery of marijuana, possession with the intent to deliver marijuana, criminal conspiracy and criminal use of a communications facility.
Dye is charged with two counts each of delivery of marijuana, possession with the intent to deliver marijuana and conspiracy.
Armstrong and Eshelman are both charged with one count each of delivery of marijuana, possession with the intent to deliver marijuana and criminal conspiracy to deliver marijuana.
All four defendants were arraigned before Lock Haven Magisterial District Judge Joseph Sanders and placed in the Clinton County Jail. Kennedy was held in lieu of $100,000 bail and the other three were held in lieu of $75,000 bail.
The case will be prosecuted in Clinton County.
Corbett thanked the Lock Haven Police Department, Lock Haven University Police Department, Woodward Township Police Department, Pine Creek Police Department, Lamar Township Police Department and the Clinton County Sheriff's Department for their cooperation and assistance in this investigation.
Corbett said that this is a continuing investigation and additional arrests are anticipated.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty)
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