CLEARFIELD – Testimony continued Wednesday in the trial for a 64-year-old Bronx, NY man, Luther L. Ware Jr., who has been accused of bringing crack cocaine and distributing it in the Clearfield area.
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, which is scheduled through Friday.
Members of the jury heard from several local distributors/users who had crack cocaine dealings with Ware. Among those was the first CI who said they started using crack cocaine in 2012 and initially purchased it from “D.”
The CI said they eventually met Ware through a local distributor who started going to him as their regular source for crack cocaine. The CI said based upon discussions between the local distributor and Ware, they learned Ware got his crack cocaine in New York.
Later under cross-examination, the CI testified about purchasing crack cocaine from both “D” and Ware in 2012. The CI added that “D” always referred to Ware as the “big guy” with the larger quantities of crack cocaine in the Clearfield area.
In 2013, the CI said they used crack cocaine “on-and-off” before quitting and seeking rehabilitation. In 2014, the CI said they agreed to work with agents, saying it was about “personal accountability.”
On Aug. 27, 2014, the CI said they attempted to make contact with Ware in order to purchase crack cocaine as a controlled buy for agents. However, the CI said they were unable to arrange a controlled buy with Ware.
On Oct. 8, 2014, the CI testified before a statewide investigating grand jury. While traveling back to Clearfield with agents, the CI had contact with the local distributor who had continued to deal with Ware. The CI offered them a way out with help in discussing Ware’s crack cocaine operation with agents.
The second CI said in 2012-13, they started to purchase crack cocaine and went to Ware’s local distributors. The CI said they purchased crack cocaine for others who wanted to stay out of the picture.
The CI said they would purchase half-gram bags of crack cocaine for $40 and charge others $50, so that they made a little from it. The CI said a regular purchase consisted of anywhere from one gram to an “8 ball” and occurred every day or every other day.
The CI said they purchased from Ware’s distributors for six months to a year before dealing with Ware directly. The CI said they never really purchased the crack cocaine for personal use but did start using in 2013-14.
The CI said Ware was known to change his phone numbers but would let them know, so that they could continue to purchase crack cocaine. The CI said they often met Ware at local establishments to purchase their crack cocaine.
In October of 2014, the CI said they decided to cooperate with agents, as it was “the only way out.” The CI said they’d lost everything because of crack cocaine, and it’d ruined their life. “If I’d continued, I’d probably be dead,” the CI said.
On Oct, 9, 2014, the CI said they made contact with Ware under the direction of agents to arrange a controlled buy of crack cocaine from Ware. The CI said Ware told them that he’d be coming back to Clearfield with a “boatload” of drugs.
The CI said once they arranged the controlled buy, the agent provided them with $100 to purchase one gram of crack cocaine from Ware at his Turnpike Avenue apartment.
The CI said they entered Ware’s apartment and was let in by another local distributor. The CI said another female was inside the apartment and Ware entered later. When he entered the CI said Ware started to break up and bag the crack cocaine; the CI said they exchanged cash and crack cocaine with Ware and then left.
Six other witnesses also testified about their drug dealings with Ware and those associated with his operation. One witness said while incarcerated at the Clearfield County Jail this year, Ware approached them about testifying on his behalf and Ware had prepared a statement.
The witness said they didn’t want to sign it; however, Ware had other inmates approaching them about it. The witness said they ultimately signed the statement just to get Ware off their back.
When asked, the witness said parts of the statement weren’t true, such as that they had never purchased crack cocaine from Ware. The witness said when they signed the statement prepared by Ware they weren’t under oath and their testimony at trial was the truth.
Also, a witness testified that they’d used drugs for a substantial period of their life. Two of Ware’s distributors stayed with the witness and supplied them with crack cocaine in 2012 through August of 2013.
The witness said Ware would visit the local distributors in their basement. The witness said they would come out with crack cocaine and Ware would have cash. The witness said the local distributors would have a sandwich bag with probably 100 smaller bags of crack cocaine inside it.
The witness said Ware’s local distributors sold drugs out of their residence. Every day the witness said the local distributors would get calls, leave with crack cocaine and return with cash. The witness said Ware would visit his local distributors in their basement about twice a month.
In August of 2013, the witness said they kicked out Ware’s distributors in order to get “cleaned up.”
Distributor Testifies Against Crack Cocaine Ring Leader
Manuj “Glenn” McCoon testified that he first met Ware in April of 2013 through a mutual friend in Bronx, NY. He said he was unemployed at the time and Ware offered him a job. McCoon said Ware wanted him to direct his crack cocaine distribution in Clearfield County.
At the time, McCoon said he decided not to do it. In August of 2013, he said Ware offered him the job again and he started working for him in order to care for his family. McCoon said Ware wanted him to direct the crack cocaine distribution, as he’d been using local addicts who were stealing drugs and or money from him.
McCoon said he stayed at hotels and local distributors/users would call him to advise how much money they had and to order amounts of crack cocaine. Local distributors/users, he said, would meet him to trade cash for crack cocaine. McCoon said he never “fronted” crack cocaine and required cash first.
According to McCoon, Ware had a drug supplier in New York. He said when Ware brought crack cocaine to Clearfield, it was pre-packaged in half-gram, or $50, bags. McCoon said Ware usually brought in $6,000 to $12,000 worth of crack cocaine at a time depending on sales.
McCoon said when the quantities of crack cocaine got low he would call Ware, who would bring a re-supply to him. McCoon said he would give Ware cash from sales, and Ware would return to New York.
At times McCoon said he returned to New York to spend time with his family. Ware, he said, would then stay in Clearfield to direct the distribution of crack cocaine until his return. McCoon said before traveling back, he’d pick up crack cocaine from Ware’s supplier in New York.
According to McCoon, he started to feel unsafe in Clearfield and checked into a hotel in DuBois in November of 2013. Around that time, he was returning to New York when he was stopped by the Pennsylvania State Police on Interstate 80, and a supply of crack cocaine was later located during a search of his vehicle.
Trooper Brian Hoy of the Pennsylvania State Police said he was stationed at the Lamar barracks and on routine patrol on Nov. 14, 2013. He received a be-on-the-lookout alert for a green minivan to be operated by McCoon.
Hoy said McCoon was wanted on a warrant in a simple assault case through Lawrence Township police. McCoon was also wanted for questioning for an alleged rape, and the BOLO alert was requested by state police at Clearfield.
According to Hoy, McCoon was to be traveling from the Clearfield area toward New York. He was suspected to be in possession of drugs and guns. After 3 a.m. Nov. 14, 2013, Hoy observed the minivan described in the BOLO alert; he traveled by not to alert the driver before doing a U-turn to follow the minivan.
Hoy said he alerted state police at Milton who dispatched back-up to assist him. He followed the minivan into Union County, where he initiated a traffic stop. Hoy said he ordered McCoon to put his hands up, which he did, and he placed him into custody without incident.
Hoy said he used a flashlight to look into the minivan to make sure no one was hiding inside. He also said that he didn’t see anything in plain view, and called for the van to be towed from the scene. Hoy said state police at Milton remained with the van for the arrival of towing services.
Hoy said he contacted Lawrence Township police to transport McCoon from the Lamar barracks.
On Nov. 14, 2013, Trooper Justin Jones of the Pennsylvania State Police interviewed McCoon at the Clearfield County Jail. Jones had initiated an investigation into an alleged rape with McCoon being the suspect.
Jones said the victim alleged McCoon had raped her inside his minivan. He said the victim had also alleged that McCoon had supplied her with drugs. However, Jones said McCoon denied having any involvement with drugs.
As part of his investigation of the alleged rape, Jones said he contacted McCoon’s girlfriend/wife for consent to search the minivan. He said she arrived to the barracks with Ware. When he asked her for consent to search, Jones said she wanted to discuss it with Ware.
Jones said he permitted the woman to speak with Ware, who advised her not to allow state police to search the minivan. Jones said he asked Ware why he’d intervened on the matter, and he advised that he and McCoon were “business partners.”
Jones said he subsequently applied for and obtained a search warrant for McCoon’s minivan. On Nov. 18, 2013, Jones said a search of McCoon’s vehicle turned up multiple cellular phones, small plastic packaging with residue of suspected cocaine; copper scrub pads; a box of ammunition; jewelry; 81 packets of crack cocaine (11.47 grams); and $2,000 in cash.
Jones said he believed McCoon had a significant amount of drugs for the Clearfield area. He said the totality of all of the seized items gave him reason to believe that McCoon was involved in drug activity. Jones said he filed drug-related charges against McCoon and turned the investigation over to the AG’s office.
Gorman is expected to rest his case by the lunch break today. On Wednesday afternoon, DuBois requested to have as many as six witnesses testify by phone due to them being unable to travel from New York to Clearfield.
Gorman objected, arguing that it would be difficult for jurors to judge the credibility of witnesses without them physically being in the courtroom. He said the court would neither have any way to ensure the identity of DuBois’ witnesses nor prevent them from congregating together at the time of their testimony.
Ammerman shared in Gorman’s concerns and denied DuBois’ request. The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today.