April 21, 2011
Six charged in ?Operation Stripped Down;? Ohio-to-PA cocaine distribution network linked to Erie & Crawford County strip clubs
HARRISBURG ? Agents from the Attorney General?s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, assisted by local police departments in Pennsylvania and Ohio, are in the process of arresting six suspects accused of participating in a cocaine distribution network that allegedly operated from two strip clubs located in Erie and Crawford counties.
Acting Attorney General Bill Ryan said the 14-month long investigation, known as ?Operation Stripped Down,? focused on the trafficking and distribution of cocaine in northwestern Pennsylvania, much of which appears to have originated from sources in eastern Ohio.
Ryan identified the principal figure in this cocaine sales network as Spyridion Logothetis, of West Springfield. Logothetis is the owner of the Velvet Strip Club, located in West Springfield.
According to investigators, Logothetis allegedly traveled to Ashtabula, Ohio on a regular basis to obtain cocaine, often purchasing up to six ounces per trip. The origin of that cocaine is the subject of an ongoing investigation. At other times, Logothetis allegedly obtained cocaine from a source in Erie, identified as Anthony Lewis McGowan.
According to the criminal complaints, agents made a total of six undercover purchases of cocaine from Logothetis, with deliveries occurring at various meeting locations in West Springfield, Albion and Girard.
Ryan said that Logothetis allegedly distributed the cocaine to Walter Bolharsky, the owner of Club Paradise, a strip club located in Linesville, PA.
?Over the course of the investigation, undercover agents who were able to infiltrate Club Paradise made numerous cocaine purchases from dancers and other dealers who were allegedly operating inside the club,? Ryan said.
Ryan said those involved in cocaine sales included Maria Blake, of Conneaut, Ohio, who was a dancer at Club Paradise.
According to the criminal complaint, agents also bought cocaine from Willie Albert Wynder, Jr., of Conneaut, Ohio.
Ryan said undercover agents allegedly purchased quantities of cocaine inside Club Paradise, including deliveries from Wynder and Blake.
Additionally, Logothetis is the suspected cocaine source for Jessica D. Harbaugh, of Lake City, PA. On two different occasions, Harbaugh is accused of selling cocaine during two different controlled drug purchases in Edinboro and Girard.
Ryan thanked the following agencies for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation, including: Pennsylvania State Police, Erie County District Attorney?s Office, Crawford County District Attorney?s Office, Edinboro Police Department, Girard Police Department, Lake City Police Department, Lawrence Park Police Department, Linesville Police Department, Meadville Police Department, Millcreek Police Department, Vernon Township Police Department and the Ashtabula County Ohio Sheriff?s Office.
The defendants will be prosecuted by the Erie County and Crawford County District Attorney?s Offices, depending on where the alleged drug transactions occurred.
A full list of the defendants, along with the charges filed against them, is included below:
Spyridion Logothetis, 53, 14767 Ridge Road, West Springfield, is charged with six counts of delivery of cocaine and six counts of possession of cocaine.
Walter Bolharsky, 54, 5750 West Center Road, Linesville, is charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled or counterfeit substance and one count of possession of a controlled or counterfeit substance.
Anthony Louis McGowan, 36, 4207 Stanton St., Erie, is charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.
Willie Albert Wynder, Jr., 50, 137 Nickelplate Ave., Conneaut, Ohio, is charged with one count of delivery of cocaine and one count of possession of cocaine.
Maria C. Blake, 38, 321 Sandusky St., Conneaut, Ohio, is charged with one count of delivery of cocaine and one count of possession of cocaine.
Jessica D. Harbaugh, 24, 9800 West Lake Road, Lake City, is charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine, two counts of possession of cocaine and one count of criminal use of a communications facility.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty)