CLEARFIELD – The trial got under way Monday for three men who were allegedly involved with a methamphetamine operation in the Clearfield area.
Vincent Panebianco, 29, of Clearfield has been charged with felony criminal conspiracy engaging-manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, plus misdemeanor endangering the welfare of children.
Darrell L. Taylor, 30, of Springdale has been charged with felony criminal conspiracy engaging-manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, plus misdemeanor endangering the welfare of children.
Marcus Homer Waltmon, 41, formerly of Clearfield and an inmate of state prison, has been charged with felony conspiracy-manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities.
Senior Deputy Attorney General David C. Gorman is prosecuting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Panebianco is being represented by defense attorney Leanne Nedza, Taylor by defense attorney Joe Valenza and Waltmon by defense attorney Joshua Maines.
The charges stem from an investigation by local law enforcement and agents of the Attorney General’s office into drug activity at Panebianco’s Clearfield residence at 1815 Daisy Street Ext., Gorman said in his opening statements.
When a vehicle driven by Eric J. Kyler was stopped after leaving Panebianco’s residence Feb. 1, Gorman said officers found over $19,000 in a locked container, as well as packaging materials, a small amount of methamphetamine, scales and an assortment of drug paraphernalia.
He said Kyler had another $2,628 on him, while his passenger, Waltmon, had $662. Gorman said after Kyler was taken into custody, his cell phone received repeated calls from a number in Akron, Ohio, which he called a “source city” for methamphetamine.
He said it was believed Kyler intended to purchase an additional one-pound supply of the drug in Ohio because there was a “dwindling” supply of about one ounce at Panebianco’s residence. As a result, he said a search warrant was obtained and executed the night of Feb. 1-2.
Gorman said a search of the residence yielded about an ounce of suspected methamphetamine, scales, money, packaging materials and two guns and two young children were present at the time. Additionally, he said Taylor had $1,040 on him when he was taken into custody.
“Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees,” Gorman said. “This is a methamphetamine operation.”
In his opening statements, Maines said he was confident the commonwealth will not present sufficient evidence that his client, Waltmon, possessed drugs with the intent to deliver. He told jurors if they listened closely, they will have no difficulty finding Waltmon not guilty.
In his opening statements, Valenza said his client, Taylor, was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. He said because Taylor just so happened to be at Panebianco’s residence, the commonwealth speculated he was part of the drug operation.
Nedza reminded jurors that the burden of proof remains with the commonwealth, and “just because Gorman says something, doesn’t make it true.” She said after all the testimony and evidence is presented in the case, she’s confident her client, Panebianco, will be found not guilty of all charges.
Trooper Brett Kahler testified that on Feb. 1, he assisted members of the Clearfield County Drug Task Force, narcotics agents from the Attorney General’s office and local law enforcement with a surveillance detail of Panebianco’s residence.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., Kyler went to Panebianco’s residence to pick up Waltmon. The two men left and Kyler drove on state Route 879 towards Interstate 80.
Kahler said after Kyler turned abruptly into the Snappy’s Convenience Store parking lot, he initiated a traffic stop and also requested assistance from Trooper Aaron Tiracorda.
Kahler said he obtained written and verbal consent from Kyler for law enforcement to search his vehicle. Inside the vehicle, Tiracorda said a locked container was found with a large sum of cash, as well as a loaded syringe containing methamphetamine, a small amount of methamphetamine, scales and an assortment of drug paraphernalia.
Kyler reportedly had another $2,628 on his person while Waltmon had $662 and two pills.
Later at the township police station, Kahler said a scan was conducted on the seized cash and his K-9 alerted to the odor of a controlled substance. He said the K-9 is trained to detect the odors of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
A search warrant was subsequently obtained for and executed at Panebianco’s residence, where Tiracorda said officers located about an ounce of suspected methamphetamine, paraphernalia, money and two guns. Two children were also reportedly inside the home at the time.
Clearfield Borough Assistant Police Chief Nathan Curry said he conducted a pat-down search of Taylor when he was being taken into custody. During the search, he said he located a large wad of cash in Taylor’s pants pocket.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Courtroom No. 1 before Clearfield County President Judge Fredric Ammerman. The trial is scheduled to run through Friday.