DUBOIS – A former Florida man will stand trial on charges related to selling drugs and breaking into a home to retrieve stolen money.
Brandon Allen Patino, 34, currently an inmate of the Clearfield County Jail, is charged with five counts of possession of firearms prohibited, five counts of firearms not to be carried without a license, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, manufacture/delivery/possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy-manufacture/delivery/possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, burglary, robbery, criminal conspiracy/robbery, and aggravated assault.
After a preliminary hearing Tuesday, District Judge Patrick Ford ruled all charges be sent on to the court of common pleas for further disposition. One charge, criminal conspiracy/burglary was dismissed. Patino’s bail is $50,000.
The charges stem from incidents in DuBois on May 27 and Kittanning on June 5.
Police had been tipped off that Patino was allegedly selling drugs out of his West Long Avenue apartment in DuBois, according to information filed with the criminal complaint. A search warrant was executed on the residence, but Patino was not at home. In June Patino was allegedly involved in a home invasion in Kittanning, where he confronted a woman he claimed had stolen money and drugs from him.
The first witness was Cpl. Randy Young of the DuBois City police, who testified that he received information from a confidential informant who wanted to file a complaint against Patino. This informant claimed Patino had both drugs and weapons at his residence in DuBois. Because of his prior criminal history, Patino was not permitted to possess a firearm, Young said.
A search warrant was obtained for the residence and on May 27 the warrant was executed on the apartment. Officers found drug paraphernalia, Western Union receipts and a safe.
An additional warrant was obtained for the safe. Inside they found $15,000 in cash and three weapons: a 50-caliber rifle with scope, a 22-caliber rifle with the barrel and stock sawed off and a 40-caliber handgun with the serial number rubbed off.
Karli Chambers, one of Patino’s co-defendants, testified that she was in a relationship with him while he was living at a men’s shelter in Punxsutawney in late 2014.
He started receiving methamphetamine in the mail and he asked her if she would help sell it, she stated. The source for the drug in California was a jail inmate.
She explained that Patino moved to DuBois in February of 2015 after he was released from probation. He would receive the drugs in the mail hidden in hollowed out candles or an Easter basket.
Patino would then send payment back hidden in items, such as a stuffed rabbit. She stated that he tried sending money through Western Union, but he was questioned why he was sending $2,500 to someone in California. He told them he was buying a ring from a family member.
The amount of meth in the packages increased, and he was receiving them about every two weeks. She admitted she helped him package it into smaller bags for sale. She lived with him for a month until his wife got out of jail, she said.
In May, he contacted her asking if she had “snitched” on him. She told him she didn’t.
After the raid, she went to his apartment and saw that the door had been screwed shut. She entered anyway, she said, to get clothes for Patino’s son.
While she was there, a mailman delivered a package with more drugs. She accepted the package and took it back with her to Punxsutawney. Later she arranged a meeting with Patino, who opened the package. It contained 16 ounces of meth, she said.
They stayed for a while at a hotel in Clearfield. A few days later, they moved to a different motel in Clearfield, and then they were in Altoona until someone threatened to call the cops. They then returned to Clearfield. This is when a woman joined them, Chambers explained.
They left that motel after she saw cops outside and stayed with a local man. She only stayed a short while because she “felt like a third wheel” with Patino and the woman. She expressed her disgust that he was having a sexual relationship with her but still wanted to hang out with the woman. Chambers went to Indiana to stay with a friend.
Later she got a call from Patino, who said this woman had robbed him by taking all his meth and his money. He wanted to get it back. They met in Marion Center.
Another woman made contact with the woman Patino had claimed robbed him in an attempt to get the money and drugs back. They eventually learned the woman was staying at a residence in Kittanning.
Chambers got a 22-caliber rifle from her father’s house. They then went to Wal-Mart where they bought sandpaper and duct tape. He sawed off the gun barrel and stock and then used the sandpaper to remove the serial number. The duct tape was used to keep their fingerprints off the weapon, she said.
They contacted Joseph Mazza, who went with him to the Kittanning residence. The two men put on bandanas, she said, and she left them out of their vehicle near the home. She waited for a while before she followed them into the house.
When she entered she saw one victim lying on the floor with Mazza pointing a gun at him. Patino was pointing his gun at everyone and telling them to shut up.
Chambers admitted she hit the woman who Patino claimed had robbed him “about 10 times” in the face. When she asked the woman where the drugs and money was, she claimed she had been robbed.
Patino kicked the woman a few times and put a gun to her head asking her if she was “ready to die.”
Chambers testified that she told Patino that was enough and the gun went off once, into the ceiling.
Before they left, she pulled the phone lines out and took the victims’ cell phones.
They removed the woman’s purse and a wallet belonging to a male victim. The woman’s purse only had a few bricks of heroin and no cash, she said.
They took Mazza back to DuBois, stopping to get something to eat on the way. She and Patino then went to a hotel in Indiana, she said.
Later that day, she went to her car in the parking lot when the “cops swarmed us.” She was taken into custody.
She spent two months in jail in Armstrong County and was in jail in Allegheny County for a while for a probation violation.
Chambers stated that she was told if she cooperated with the investigation, her charges would be dropped.
Online court documents show that charges against Chambers in Armstrong County were withdrawn.
During cross examination, Leanne Nedza, who is representing Patino, asked Chambers if she was the one who “split her head open,” referring to the woman who Patino claimed had robbed him.
Chambers admitted that her ring cut the woman’s forehead when she struck her.
Mazza testified that he also had a deal that if he testified against Patino, authorities would “help my situation.”
Mazza confirmed that he knew Patino was receiving meth from California in the mail and selling it. He wasn’t sure how much he was getting but said he thought it was a lot. He stated the drugs were coming in voodoo dolls that were hollow.
Not long after the raid at his apartment, Patino called Mazza asking for help. “He wanted to get money back from a girl who robbed him.”
Mazza stated that at one point Patino was contemplating whether he should kill everyone “so there would be no witnesses” but decided that was a bad idea.
The two men put bandanas on their faces and went into the home. Patino hit a “kid” that was in the kitchen when they entered. They held the occupants at gun point, Mazza said. Patino hit the girl who supposedly robbed him and he was trying to figure out where the drugs were.
“She was screaming and crying,” he said.
Chambers also entered the residence. She pulled the phone wires out and yelled at the girl, he said.
Mazza said he was nervous and at one point the gun went off. We dispersed, he said with Chambers grabbing the cell phones, a wallet and a purse.
Patino gave him more than two bricks of heroin for his help.
Nedza asked what he was on probation for at the time of this crime. Mazza said it was a burglary from three or four years ago in Jefferson County.
A Kittanning man testified he and the others were watching TV at 1:30 a.m. when his home was invaded by two men. One of them hit the woman victim with his fist. She fell back and he beat her repeatedly with the stock of a gun, he said.
He kept saying “you don’t know who you are messing with” and asking “where’s the stuff,” he said.
A woman later came in without a mask. She also struck the woman victim, he testified. The other male in the home was also knocked down.
The woman victim told them the stuff was in her purse. They took it.
“Someone said ‘sorry for the inconvenience’, but I’m not sure who,’” the man said during his testimony.
After the intruders left, they called police. The woman victim identified Patino and Chambers as the ones who attacked her.
A woman testified that she lives in the Kittanning home with her father and boyfriend. She said the woman victim came to stay with them and the four of them were watching TV when her boyfriend went to the kitchen for a drink.
Patino came into the house and told her to hold her dog back. Another man put her boyfriend on the ground. Patino hit the woman victim and asked where his [expletive] was at.
Chambers then came in and stated, “I told you not to mess with me,” the woman stated.
“Did the gun go off?” Senior Deputy Attorney General David Gorman, who was representing the commonwealth, asked.
The woman said yes, it did while he was hitting the woman victim with it, but there was nothing in it.
Nedza asked why the woman victim was staying with her.
Initially she was only going to stay one night, but she ended up staying longer, the woman explained.
“Was she selling drugs out of your house?” Nedza asked.
She admitted the woman victim was selling heroin, but her dad was not aware of that until after this incident.
Trooper Michael J. Lewis testified that he was with the officers who arrested Chambers and Patino at the motel in Indiana. Chambers was taken into custody in the parking lot and was asked if Patino was in the room.
After she confirmed he was there, they entered the room. They saw him coming out of the bathroom with his hands in the air. In the toilet, they found 42 stamp bags of heroin.
A search of the room also uncovered a knife, ammunition, numerous cell phones, the missing wallet, a pistol, money and a sawed off 22-caliber rifle. The guns were found hidden in the box springs of the bed.
In her closing arguments, Nedza asked for several charges to be dismissed. Ford only agreed to drop the one conspiracy charge, stating that the second conspiracy charge for burglary was a duplicate of the conspiracy/robbery charge.