ERIE – Attorney General Tom Corbett announced on Thursday that agents from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI), along with local law enforcement, are in the process of arresting as many as 12 suspected drug dealers accused of trafficking methamphetamine in Erie County.
Corbett said the 17-month long investigation, known as “Operation Broken Glass,” focused on the distribution and sale of as much as $500,000 worth of “glass” or “crystal” meth in western Erie County, particularly in and around the towns of Girard and Lake City. Evidence and testimony about the alleged drug trafficking was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges that were filed Thursday.
Corbett identified the principal figure in the organization as Stephon Hardik, 43, of Girard.
According to the grand jury, Hardik obtained bulk quantities of methamphetamine from sources in California. Hardik allegedly received one-pound packages of meth, worth an estimated $28,000, once or twice per month and distributed the drug through a network of mid-level and street-level dealers.
Corbett said that two other Erie County residents allegedly assisted Hardik in the distribution and sale of meth: Thomas E. Wolf II, 35, Girard, and Christopher D. Matlak, 34, Lake City. Hardik allegedly sold meth in multiple-ounce quantities to Wolf and Matlak, who would divide the drug into smaller amounts and repackage it for street-level sale.
The grand jury found that Hardik, Wolf and Matlak were selling as much as two ounces, or $4,000 worth of meth, per day, and even allegedly discussed setting aside a portion of their drug proceeds in a special fund to pay for a lawyer in the event that any of them were arrested. The meth was allegedly sold from homes and various other locations in the Girard area, including Hunter Jack’s Bar and Grill.
“Over the past several years we have been working aggressively to identify and shut down local meth labs throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania,” Corbett said, “As this case demonstrates, we must also target drug traffickers who are importing and distributing bulk quantities of meth produced outside Pennsylvania.”
During the course of the investigation BNI agents made a total of 13 controlled purchases of methamphetamine from numerous individuals allegedly supplied by Hardik, Wolf and Matlak, including: Brad Atkinson, of Waterford; James Cory Chaffee (AKA Cory Jenkins), of Fairview; Stephen Chase, of Girard; Shawn Kitcey, of West Springfield; Sean Edward Lasher and Laurel-Lin Potter, of Edinboro; Corey Upperman, of Lake City and Douglas Scott Walker Jr., of Girard.
Additionally, the grand jury found that Melinda Chamberlain, of Albion, conspired with Thomas Wolf to conceal methamphetamine in the basement of a home that she shared with Wolf. Chamberlain and Wolf allegedly discussed the hidden supply of drugs during an October 2005 telephone conversation while Wolf was incarcerated at the Erie County Prison. That telephone call was monitored by authorities.
Corbett noted that meth enforcement in Northwestern Pennsylvania has been the focus of an extensive effort by local, state and federal authorities. A joint Northwestern Pennsylvania Meth Task Force, which was created in May 2005, has resulted in the seizure of more than 30 meth labs operating in Erie, Crawford, Venango and Warren counties.
“We continue to send a clear message to meth dealers across this region,” Corbett said. “Whether you’re producing the meth yourself or bringing it into Pennsylvania, we are united in our efforts to identify you and to put you out of business.”
Corbett said the criminal charges were filed today before East Springfield Magisterial District Judge Christopher MacKendrick. The case will be prosecuted in Erie County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Douglas J. Wright of the Attorney General’s Drug Strike Force Section.
Corbett thanked Erie County District Attorney Brad Foulk along with the Pennsylvania State Police and police departments from Cambridge Springs, Corry, Edinboro, Erie, Girard, Lake City, Lawrence Park Township, Meadville, Millcreek, Oil City and Sugarcreek for their assistance and cooperation with this investigation.
Below is a list of the defendants and the charges filed against them:
Stephon Hardik, 43, Girard, is charged with two counts of participating in a corrupt organization, two counts of delivery of methamphetamine, three counts of possession of meth, one count of possession with intent to deliver meth and one count of criminal conspiracy.
Thomas E. Wolf II, 35, Girard, is charged with two counts of delivery of meth, two counts of possession of meth and one count of possession with intent to deliver meth.
Christopher D. Matlak, 34, Lake City, is charged with one count each of possession of meth, possession with intent to deliver meth and criminal conspiracy.
Brad Atkinson, 27, Waterford, is charged with two counts of delivery of meth, two counts of possession of meth and one count of criminal conspiracy.
James Cory Chaffee (AKA Cory Jenkins), 25, Fairview, is charged with one count of delivery of meth and one count of possession of meth.
Melinda Sue Chamberlain, 29, Albion, is charged with one count each of possession of meth, possession with intent to deliver meth and criminal conspiracy.
Stephen Chase, 37, Girard, is charged with three counts each of delivery of meth and possession of meth.
Shawn Kitcey, 26, West Springfield, is charged with one count each of delivery of meth, possession of meth and criminal conspiracy.
Sean Edward Lasher, 27, Edinboro, is charged with two counts of delivery of meth, two counts of possession of meth and one count of criminal conspiracy.
Laurel-Lin Potter, 24, Edinboro, is charged with one count each of delivery of meth, possession of meth and criminal conspiracy.
Corey Upperman, 29, Lake City, is charged with one count each of delivery of meth and possession of meth.
Douglas Scott Walker Jr., 28, Girard, is charged with two counts of delivery of meth, two counts of possession of meth and one count of criminal conspiracy.