CLEARFIELD – The trial for a 64-year-old Bronx, NY man, Luther L. Ware Jr., who has been accused of bringing crack cocaine from New York and distributing it in the Clearfield area, will go to the jury today.
Ware has been charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; delivery of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communications facility; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities; conspiracy; and corrupt organizations.
The charges against Ware stem from a drug bust that occurred at his apartment on Turnpike Avenue in Clearfield on Oct. 9, 2014. Prior to the drug bust, a confidential informant allegedly purchased $100 worth of crack cocaine from Ware. When agents obtained and executed a search warrant, they allegedly seized crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana from Ware’s apartment.
Senior Deputy Attorney General David Gorman is presenting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Ware is being represented by defense attorney Jeff DuBois. Clearfield County President Judge Fredric Ammerman is presiding over the case.
Yesterday, the commonwealth presented testimony from one of Ware’s local distributors, a couple approached to distribute crack cocaine for Ware and an undercover narcotics agent from the AG’s office involved with the investigation.
In their testimony, Ware’s local distributor said they started getting into crack cocaine in 2012. In 2013, Ware and his other distributors “D” and “J” who were also from New York started coming to their apartment. The local distributor said they began selling crack cocaine supplied by Ware late spring or early summer of that year.
The local distributor said they received a lot of calls, and it seemed like their phone never stopped ringing. They said Ware came to their apartment about once a week to bring crack cocaine. The local distributor said customers usually purchased anywhere from a half-gram to an “8 ball,” or 3.5 grams of crack cocaine.
According to the local distributor, they turned over all of the cash from drug sales to Ware, “D” or “J.” They said Ware took the most cash from drug sales and then paid “D” and “J” their cuts. The local distributor said that “D” and “J” wanted a bigger cut, and when Ware refused the two branched off to sell on their own in Philipsburg.
The local distributor said they continued dealing with Ware until assaulted by his business partner, Manuj “Glenn” McCoon, in November of 2013. They said Ware recruited McCoon to come to Clearfield to direct his crack cocaine operation.
The local distributor said that McCoon assaulted them shortly before he was arrested and incarcerated at the Clearfield County Jail. When asked about the assault, they said McCoon had accused them of stealing crack cocaine during a dispute at a local hotel.
The local distributor told McCoon that they didn’t have the missing drugs. After the assault, they went outside because McCoon had accused them of taking it from the room. While outside, the local distributor said McCoon put a knife to their throat and threatened them.
“It was my wake up call,” the local distributor said. “I stopped smoking crack after that. I stopped talking to everyone.”
A husband and wife testified that they met McCoon at a party in Clearfield in August or September of 2013. The couple said McCoon flashed a large amount of money and then the husband joked, “If you’re giving money away, give me some for rent.” The couple said McCoon handed over $300-$350; the husband told McCoon he was only joking around. However, McCoon told him to go ahead and take it.
The couple said they returned to try to repay McCoon, who wouldn’t accept. The second time, McCoon told them he had a way that they could repay him. They said McCoon approached them several times about selling crack cocaine, as they were a stable married couple, which made for a good cover.
On some occasions, the couple said Ware would accompany McCoon when he visited them in trying to recruit them to sell crack cocaine. The couple said Ware offered to get them an apartment, car, etc. and told them they would make a lot of money.
On one occasion, the couple observed suspected crack cocaine while being recruited by Ware and McCoon. They said that it was packaged into small bags and dumped out on a kitchen countertop.
The wife said she became concerned when she overheard the tone of Ware’s voice when speaking to her husband. She sensed he was angry and heard him cursing. “I felt if we didn’t do it, there would be harm to myself or my husband,” she said.
When speaking with McCoon the husband said he often bragged about beating up people. He described McCoon as the “muscle” and Ware as the “brains” of the crack cocaine operation.
The wife said although she was afraid of McCoon, she was more afraid of Ware. She said, “There was just something about him. He meant business.” She said when McCoon was arrested and jailed she continued to remain in fear of Ware.
The husband said after McCoon’s arrest, Ware said he needed money to get McCoon out of jail. He said Ware told him that he’d [f—–] McCoon, meaning he’d also [f—–] him. The husband said Ware then made the comment that he wasn’t one to take a [f——. The husband said he told Ware that he couldn’t help him.
Out of fear, the couple said they ultimately moved out of the area shortly before Thanksgiving in 2013.
The undercover narcotics agent testified that based upon their experience with drug investigations, Ware was the leader of the crack cocaine operation. The agent said Ware had others, such as McCoon, “D” and “J,” below them to facilitate their drug operation, as well as to try to insulate them from those on the lower levels and detection from law enforcement.
The agent said Ware had his people in the Clearfield area at all times selling crack cocaine and collecting money. While surprised by locating heroin during the search of Ware’s apartment, the agent said it was an indicator that he was a poly-substance dealer and “higher up the chain.”
Ware took the stand in his own defense yesterday afternoon. He told jurors when he returned from Vietnam he struggled with drug addiction and had a prior arrest for buying crack cocaine. Ware said as a result of that arrest, he was separated from his daughter for a period of time.
“I made a promise to God and myself that I’d never do anything to result in us being separated again,” he said. After that arrest, Ware said he became an “advocate,” which brought him to the Clearfield area with him being a substance abuse counselor. In 2012-13, he said he appeared in Clearfield County Court twice as an “advocate” for his friend’s girlfriend.
In 2013, Ware said he was looking for a place to relocate to with his daughter due to violence in Bronx, NY. When he visited Clearfield for the court proceedings he was “impressed” by the real estate, which was cheap in comparison to the city.
When asked, Ware claimed he absolutely didn’t have any involvement with distributing drugs in the Clearfield area from 2013 until his arrest. “Why would I do that? I have money; I don’t need money.” Ware also denied ownership of the drugs seized at his Turnpike Avenue apartment on Oct. 9, 2014.
Under cross-examination by Gorman, Ware said any witness who claimed he transported drugs from New York and distributed them in the Clearfield area was a liar. When asked, Ware said he didn’t dispute that the $100 from the controlled buy was found on him during the search; however, he disputed selling crack cocaine to the CI.
Ware also denied referring to McCoon as his “business partner” when Trooper Justin Jones of the Pennsylvania State Police sought permission to search McCoon’s minivan while investigating an alleged rape incident involving McCoon. Ware said he told the trooper that he was an “advocate” for McCoon, and implied that the trooper’s report was inaccurate in regards to his statement.
Stephanie Dozier, the mother of Ware’s daughter from Bronx, NY, also testified for the defense. In 2012 through October of 2014, she said Ware had primary custody of their daughter. Dozier said Ware would have been responsible for taking her to school in the morning and then picking her up in the afternoon.
When he testified, Ware also said he took his daughter to school and picked her up after. He said his daughter wasn’t permitted to be released without an adult. Under cross-examination, Ware admitted that at times he wasn’t available to take and pick-up his daughter at school.
In his closing, DuBois said the commonwealth’s case was all “bubble wrap and wrapping paper” that when unraveled turns out to be only a “trinket.” He also argued that it didn’t matter how many witnesses that the commonwealth put on the stand, none of them were reliable.
Gorman said the investigation into Ware’s crack cocaine operation was the commonwealth fighting the drug war. He said the nature of these investigations force the commonwealth to use “people who live that world” in order to expose the larger-scale drug dealers.
“Luther Ware was not a business partner or an advocate. He was a drug dealer on the streets of Clearfield. Each witness pointed to Luther Ware,” said Gorman. “…As damaged as they were, the commonwealth’s witnesses came into the courtroom and told the truth.”