Out-of-state Man Charged in Akron to Clearfield Drug Pipeline Waives Hearing

Pictured are Sondra McQuillen, James Thomas and Joyce and Jason Merritts (Provided photos)

CLEARFIELD – An out-of-state man has been charged in connection with a crystal methamphetamine and cocaine pipeline from Akron, Ohio to Clearfield County.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the “complete shutdown” of this drug pipeline and the subsequent criminal charges during a press conference Jan. 8.

These charges included a felony count each of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver and conspiracy against 32-year-old Kenneth R. Quade, formerly of Houtzdale.

Eighteen felony, drug-related charges were also filed against James D. Thomas, 49, of Akron, Ohio, who was arraigned June 11, according to online court documents.

The estimated street value of all the crystal meth, cocaine and other drugs distributed by this operation is $1.5 million, Shapiro said in January.

That, he said, included 10,000 grams of crystal meth, which is the equivalent of 50 to 100 doses being used every week.

According to grand jury documents, Sondra L. McQuillen, 54, of Houtzdale and or her fiancé, Donald Mullens, were bringing up to one pound of meth once or twice a week to Clearfield County that was supplied by Thomas in Akron, Ohio.

After Mullens died from a drug overdose on May 22, 2018, McQuillen continued to make quick trips to Ohio where she allegedly obtained at least four ounces of the drug each time.

Beginning in September of 2017, investigators arranged several controlled purchases of meth from a Clearfield couple, Jason and Joyce Merritts, who sold it from their apartment in Lawrence Township, according to the grand jury documents.

It was established that McQuillen was providing them with drugs after Mullens’ death and further investigation also confirmed her source as Thomas.

Mullens and or McQuillen reportedly traveled to Ohio on approximately 26 occasions in 2018.

On July 26, law enforcement officers followed McQuillen and another person to Akron where she met with Thomas. She allegedly purchased meth and other drugs for $3,800 from him.

She was followed back to Clearfield County where investigators executed a search warrant on her vehicle.

Officers found one-third of a pound of methamphetamine, crack cocaine, marijuana and pills suspected to be prescription medications in the vehicle.

A search warrant executed at Thomas’ residence the same day allegedly turned up four ounces of meth, almost 200 grams of cocaine/crack and marijuana.

In the barber shop where he worked, police say they found two pounds of meth, over four ounces of cocaine and almost three pounds of marijuana.

McQuillen was arrested last September, along with Jason and Joyce Merritts, who were selling the drugs from their Clearfield residence while there were children present.

On Sept. 7, an arrest warrant was served on McQuillen at her Houtzdale residence.

OAG agents were let inside by Quade, who was identified as a customer of McQuillen; he was also staying there with her. He allegedly possessed approximately one eight-ball of meth, a smoking pipe, a digital scale and several razor blades.

McQuillen admitted to agents that they would find more meth inside her residence.

Agents subsequently obtained a search warrant, and when it was executed, it yielded 12 ounces of meth, a quantity of marijuana, a notebook detailing previous drug transactions and over $500 in cash.

Quade reportedly admitted to selling meth on two occasions and that his source was McQuillen. He also admitted to traveling to Ohio with McQuillen and others on two occasions to get additional supplies of the drug from her source.

Thomas waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday during centralized court at the Clearfield County Jail.

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