CLEARFIELD – Two men accused of being involved with the trafficking of methamphetamine in the Clearfield area were scheduled for preliminary hearings Thursday.
Eric James Kyler, 42, of Winburne has been charged by the Office of Attorney General with conspiracy/manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver; manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver and conspiracy/dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, all felonies.
Marcus Homer Waltmon, 40, of Clearfield has also been charged with possession with intent to distribute; manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver; and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, all felonies.
Vincent L. Panebianco, 29, of Clearfield, Darrell Taylor, 29, of Springdale, Lukus Pickard, 35, also of Clearfield, and Mallory Bloom, 26, of Curwensville were previously charged in relation to this investigation.
Kyler and Waltmon had all charges bound over to county court following their preliminary hearings Thursday. The charges against Panebianco, Taylor, Pickard and Bloom were bound over back in March.
The charges stem from a traffic stop Feb. 1 that resulted in a search warrant being executed at Panebianco’s Clearfield residence, located at 1815 Daisy Street Ext., according to previous reports.
Around 7:30 p.m., a K-9 trooper located a Mitsubishi Eclipse on the Clearfield-Shawville Highway and its driver committed a series of traffic violations.
He activated his emergency equipment and stopped the vehicle in the area of Snappy’s Convenience Store. He approached the vehicle of which Kyler was the driver and Waltmon the passenger.
A township officer arrived on-scene to assist and advised there was an active warrant out for Waltmon. The trooper said he confirmed this information and initiated the administrative work.
The trooper said township officers took over the investigation from there, and searches were done of both Kyler and Waltmon as well as the vehicle.
A township officer said when Waltmon was being taken into custody, he related there was a “loaded” syringe of methamphetamine in the passenger’s side area of the vehicle.
He said a search of Waltmon yielded a knife and a small tin with baggies with one containing two Xanax pills. Officers also found $662 on Waltmon and $2,628 on Kyler.
After consent to search the vehicle was obtained from Kyler, an agent said a lockbox was located in the rear, passenger seat area. Inside the box, he said, was over $19,000 in cash.
Also, during the search, he said they found small amounts of methamphetamine, marijuana, packaging materials, scales and other paraphernalia.
The agent testified that the cash was in smaller denominations, or “street money,” and stacked. He said lockboxes are commonly used by dealers to conceal their drugs, cash and weapons.
At the Lawrence Township police station, the trooper used his scent-trained K-9 to scan the seized cash and it alerted to the odor of an illegal substance.
Earlier in the evening before the traffic stop, the agent said he observed Kyler park at Panebianco’s residence and later on Waltmon came out and got in. Then, they departed.
Because Kyler and Waltmon were heading to I-80 with a large sum of cash, the agent said it was likely they were going to Ohio to purchase an additional supply to sell from Panebianco’s residence.
“Akron is a source city for meth,” he testified, “and $19,000 would get two pounds or more.
Based upon knowledge of high volumes of “short-stay” traffic at Panebianco’s residence combined with the traffic stop, he said agents applied for and obtained a nighttime search warrant.
The agent said around midnight, a search of the residence yielded about an ounce of suspected methamphetamine; other controlled substances; multiple scales; packaging materials; and drug paraphernalia.
There were also two firearms, a Smith & Wesson .380-caliber handgun and a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun, both of which were seized by officers.
The agent said the handgun was found with meth and cash, while the shotgun was underneath the mattress on the bed in a locked upstairs bedroom occupied by Taylor, Pickard and Bloom.
In Panebianco’s dresser, he said there were identification and bank cards belonging to other people. He said dealers often take personal items as collateral to guarantee payment for drugs.
Kyler was represented at Thursday’s hearing by defense attorney Robbie Taylor of Brookville and Waltmon by Joshua Maines of Clearfield.
In their closings, both attorneys argued that the commonwealth was “stretching it” with its attempt to connect the traffic stop with the distribution of meth out of Panebianco’s residence.
Deputy Attorney General Dave Gorman, who is prosecuting the case, said there were high volumes of short-stay traffic, Kyler and Waltmon left there and they were found with a large sum of cash.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t carry $19,000, $2,000 or even $600 in my vehicle,” he said. Gorman added all the circumstantial evidence suggests this residence was a distribution point for controlled substances.