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

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March 1, 2012

Baltimore-to-Central PA cocaine ring dismantled in "Operation Last Call;" attempts made to run organization from inside state prison

03-01-12-Opr Last CallHARRISBURG - Attorney General Linda Kelly and Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio today announced the filing of criminal charges against fourteen suspected cocaine suppliers, distributors and dealers identified during an extensive grand jury investigation into drug trafficking between Maryland and Central Pennsylvania.

Kelly noted that this drug network allegedly distributed approximately 2.5 kilos of cocaine per week in and around Altoona, including an estimated $2 million worth of drugs sold during the past year - the largest drug distribution network ever identified in Blair County.

Kelly identified the principal figure in the organization as Damion Floyd, age 33, formerly of Baltimore and currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution Pine Grove.

"Floyd is accused of obtaining bulk quantities of cocaine from sources in Maryland, coordinating the transport of drugs back to Altoona and then supervising the sale and delivery of smaller quantities to local dealers and users," Kelly said. "Even after he was arrested during a drug supply trip from Baltimore and sentenced to state prison, Floyd allegedly attempted to continue running his drug organization - using phone calls, correspondence and personal communication with his girlfriend, Natasha Miller, and other associates to monitor activities in Altoona."

Kelly noted that during the balance of this investigation, Floyd was housed at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill.  SCI Camp Hill officials assisted the Attorney General's Office with this investigation. 

According to the grand jury, Floyd used Miller to communicate with Jermaine "Shawn" Samuel, 32, of 105 16th St., Altoona, who allegedly took over day-to-day operations of the drug organization after Floyd's 2010 arrest and imprisonment. 

Kelly said that agents intercepted an October 2011 telephone call where Floyd allegedly expressed concerns about Samuel's sales of cocaine and noted that other individuals involved with the organization had written to him with complaints. Floyd allegedly warned Samuel to be cautious because "haters" or competition were around.

Kelly explained that this investigation, known as "Operation Last Call," began with information about street-level drug sales in the Altoona area.

"Using controlled drug purchases, undercover agents, various forms of surveillance and intercepted telephone conversations, we were able to piece together information about the flow of drugs and the people involved," Kelly said. "Information about that drug activity was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges that were filed today."

Kelly said investigators determined that a focal point of drug distribution for this organization was the Corner Bar and Grille, located at 1001 8th Ave., Altoona.  That business allegedly served as a storage and processing location for cocaine and was also the site of numerous drug deliveries and sales. 

The owner of the bar, Brian Stroh of Altoona, is among those charged today. The business was seized during the execution of search warrants in November 2011, which resulted in the discovery of cocaine and drug packaging materials from the office area of the bar, along with drug paraphernalia and evidence of drug processing in an apartment located above the bar.

Kelly said the Baltimore City Police Department/DEA HIDTA group assisted with the investigation, specifically working to identify the Maryland source for cocaine allegedly obtained by Floyd and Samuel.  Rodney "Rocco" Williams, of Baltimore, is currently being held in the Blair County Prison on related drug charges and will now face additional criminal counts involving drug trafficking, money laundering and the operation of a corrupt organization.

According to the grand jury, two Altoona area brothers served as primary dealers for this organization - Kenneth Piner and Stephen "Buck" Piner.  Others Altoona area residents allegedly involved in the sale, delivery or transportation of cocaine and crack include Glenn S. Piner II, Shonda Lee Hicks, Danny Tallie, Michael L. Pendleton, Tracy C. Piner, Lieesha Samuel and Shirley Thompson.

Kelly said the first phase of the investigation resulted in the execution of a wave of search and arrests warrants on November 4th, 2011, after agents followed a suspected drug courier from Altoona to Baltimore and back.  When the vehicle was stopped and searched in in Blair County agents seized 371 grams, or approximately one pound, of cocaine.
 
Simultaneously with that vehicle stop, agents and drug task force officers initiated eight other search warrants, resulting in the seizure of additional cocaine, nine vehicles and approximately $25,000 cash.

Kelly said the criminal charges filed today are the latest phase of an ongoing investigation, adding that additional suspects are expected to be charged in the future.  Anyone with information related to this investigation, or other drug trafficking activities, is urged to contact the Attorney Genera's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control.  (Contact information and telephone numbers are available in the "Contact Us" section of the Attorney General's website, at www.attorneygeneral.gov)

Kelly thanked the Blair County District Attorney's Office, Altoona Police Department, Blair County Drug Task Force, Centre County Drug Task Force, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections - SCI Camp Hill for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.

The criminal charges were filed before Roaring Spring Magisterial District Judge Craig Ormsby.

The defendants will be prosecuted in Blair County by Senior Deputy Attorney General David C. Gorman of the Attorney General's Drug Strike Force Section.

A full list of the defendants and the charges filed against them is included below:

Damion Floyd, age 33, SCI Pine Grove, Indiana, PA, is charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine; two counts of criminal conspiracy; along with one count each of participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Jermaine "Shawn" Samuel, 32, 105 16th St., Altoona, is charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine; two counts of criminal conspiracy; along with one count each of participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Natasha Q. Miller, 30, 428 5th Ave., Altoona, is charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine; two counts of criminal conspiracy; along with one count each of participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Kenneth Piner, 51, 700 5th Ave., Altoona, is charged with five counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine along with one count each of criminal conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Stephen M. "Buck" Piner, 52, 1424 18th Ave., Altoona, is charged with five counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine along with one count each of criminal conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Brian Stroh, age 37, 933 Carlee Lane, Altoona, is charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine; two counts of criminal conspiracy; along with one count each of participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Rodney "Rocco" Williams, Baltimore, MD, is charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine; two counts of criminal conspiracy; along with one count each of participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Glenn S. Piner II
, 27, 1306 18th Ave., Altoona, is charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine; two counts of criminal conspiracy; along with one count each of participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Shonda Lee Hicks
, 26, 218 1st Ave., Altoona, is charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine; two counts of criminal conspiracy; along with one count each of participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Danny Tallie, 41, 623 4th Ave., Altoona, is charged with one count each of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, criminal conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Michael L. Pendleton, 45, 1912 15th Ave., Altoona, is charged with five counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine along with one count each of criminal conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Tracy C. Piner, 42, Evergreen Manor, Altoona, is charged with one count each of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, criminal conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Lieesha Samuel, age 29, 105 16th St., Altoona, is charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine; two counts of criminal conspiracy; along with one count each of participating in a corrupt organization, dealing in unlawful proceeds (money laundering) and criminal use of a communications facility.

Shirley Thompson, age 61, 114 6th Ave., Altoona, is charged with one count each of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, criminal conspiracy, possession of cocaine and criminal use of a communications facility.

 

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