Two Million Dollar Altoona Cocaine Operation Broken Up

(Graphic provided by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General)

HARRISBURG – An Altoona area cocaine ring responsible for distributing $2 million worth of cocaine over the past two and a half years was broken-up by state narcotics agents and local police. 

Attorney General Tom Corbett said the investigation, known as “Operation Homegrown” began in November 2009 and focused on Brian Pfister, an Altoona resident, who was allegedly obtaining cocaine from three separate sources. 

Evidence and testimony regarding the case was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today. 

According to the grand jury, Pfister was a major supplier of cocaine to the Blair County area, with his main center of operations at his home in Altoona.  Agents estimate that Pfister’s organization distributed at least $2 million worth of cocaine over the past two and a half years. 

“We believe that this is one of the largest ‘homegrown’ cocaine operations in the Altoona area since the 1990’s,” Corbett said. “Pfister and his associates were trafficking and dealing a significant amount of cocaine throughout the region.” 

Corbett said that Pfister allegedly had three cocaine sources; including Timonthy Brantley, in Johnstown; John Rauch, in Altoona; and Lamar Robinson, in New York City. 

The grand jury found that Pfister made his first purchase of cocaine from Robinson in September 2008.  The initial purchase was one ounce of cocaine for $1,400, but quickly escalated to larger quantities of cocaine as Pfister expanded his customer base. 

Corbett said that Pfister’s purchases grew to the point that by the fall of 2009 he was allegedly purchasing kilogram amounts of cocaine for $40,000 to $45,000 per kilo. 

The grand jury found that prior to each delivery, Robinson and Pfister met in Monroe County, specifically at the Tannersville Shopping Outlets, to pay in advance for the forthcoming cocaine shipment. Once Robinson was paid, he allegedly delivered the cocaine to Altoona. 

According to the investigation, Pfister’s organization had a steady stream of customers who bought cocaine on a regular basis and either distributed locally or kept it for personal use. 

The grand jury found that Pfister had three main local distributors, Tammy Guida, Jeffrey Robertson and Thomas Bryan.  These individuals allegedly met with Pfister at various locations and businesses throughout Altoona, obtained large amounts of cocaine and resold the drugs to other local users. 

According to the grand jury, customers typically purchased gram to “eight ball” (3.5 grams) quantities of cocaine for $100 to $350.

During the course of the investigation agents seized or purchased cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately half a million dollars. 

On March 30, 2010 agents executed a search warrant on Pfister’s Altoona home and seized more than a kilogram of cocaine, several semi-automatic weapons, including Uzis, a 1968 Chevy Camaro, 18 empty and/or partially filled bottles of Inositol (a cutting agent used to increase the volume of cocaine), scales, a small amount of marijuana and packaging materials. 

During the investigation agents also seized a 2007 BMW 525, 1995 Ford Mustang, 2005 Infiniti SUV, 2000 Chevy Geo Tracker, 2007 Dodge Charger, 2009 Mercedes, 2007 Nissan Maxima, a pool table, entertainment center, firearms, two kilograms of cocaine and more than $350,000 in cash. 

Agents estimate that the total amount of assets seized during this investigation is more than $551,000. 

Corbett noted that this is part of an ongoing investigation and more arrests are anticipated. 

The defendants will be preliminarily arraigned this morning before Altoona Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Auker. The case will be prosecuted in Blair County by Deputy Attorney General David Gorman of the Attorney General’s Drug Strike Force Section. 

Corbett thanked Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio’s Office, Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan’s Office, Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine Jr.’s Office, the Altoona Police Department, Logan Township Police Department, Cambria County Drug Task Force, Johnstown Police Department, Pocono Township Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance and cooperation with the investigation. 

Below is a complete list of the defendants and the charges against them. 

-Brian Pfister, 42, Altoona, Cambria County is charged with three counts of possession with the intent to deliver/delivery of cocaine, three counts of criminal use of a communication facility, two counts of corrupt organization, one count of criminal conspiracy, and one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities. 

-Lamar Robinson, 28, Staten Island, NY, is charged with four counts of possession with the intent to deliver/delivery of cocaine, four counts of criminal use of a communication facility, two counts of corrupt organization, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities. 

-Jeffery Robertson, 43, Altoona, Cambria County is charged with four counts of possession with the intent to deliver/delivery of cocaine, three counts of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of criminal conspiracy. 

-John Rauch, 51, Altoona, Cambria County, is charged with three counts of possession with the intent to deliver/delivery of cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy. 

-Thomas Bryan, 43, Ebensburg, Cambria County, is charged with three counts of possession with the intent to deliver/delivery of cocaine, three counts of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of criminal conspiracy. 

-Tammy Guida, 40, Greenwood/Altoona, Cambria County, is charged with two counts of possession with the intent to deliver/delivery of cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy. 

-Timonthy Brantley, 39, Johnstown, Cambria County, is charged with two counts of possession with the intent to deliver/delivery of cocaine, two counts of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of criminal conspiracy.  

-Nicolas Rozier, 45, Johnstown, Cambria County, is charged with one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, one count of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of criminal conspiracy.

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