The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 28, 2013

Crime Roundup | 2 charged in ‘large’ prescription drug ring


tribdem@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Richland Township police said they have cracked what is believed to be a major prescription drug ring operating in at least two counties.

Two women, described by Richland police Detective Kevin Gaudlip as ringleaders in the operation, have been charged.

The drug ring is believed responsible for obtaining several thousand dollars worth of prescription drugs in Cambria County alone using scripts stolen from a physician in Blair County, Gaudlip said.

“It’s a large-scale operation,” he said.

Police charged Mindy Ann Wolf, 36, of Altoona, and Roseann Valeria Ricks, 29, of Johnstown, with multiple counts of prescription drug fraud, possessing an instrument of crime, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal use of a communication facility.

Police alleged that Wolf used scripts she stole from a Hollidaysburg doctor’s office where she was employed and used the scripts to obtain oxycodone from pharmacies in Richland and Upper Yoder townships and in Johns­town.

Wolf allegedly obtained the painkiller from August 2012 until January.

Police said Wolf gave some of the stolen scripts to Ricks, who forged prescriptions for painkillers she obtained from the same drugstores during the same time period.

Ricks also paid others to use the stolen scripts to obtain drugs for her, police allege.

Wolf would answer the telephone in the doctor’s office and confirm to the pharmacist that the prescription was valid, police said.

Once Wolf became aware that police were closing in, she quit her job at the doctor’s office, according to criminal complaints filed by police.

Richland police are working closely with police in Allegheny Township, Blair County, and more arrests are expected, Gaudlip said.

A break in the case came when a Richland pharmacist questioned the prescriptions and notified authorities, Gaudlip said.

Wolf was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Max Pavlovich of Richland and freed on bond.

Ricks was charged Monday and has not been arraigned.

Suspect linked to shooting turns himself in

The third person believed to have been involved in a home invasion shooting in Johnstown turned himself in to authorities Thursday morning.

Jason Maines, 34, of the 300 block of South Street in Johnstown, was arraigned by District Judge Leonard Grecek of Roxbury and freed after posting 10 percent of $100,000 bond.

Maines is charged with three counts each of criminal attempt to possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal attempt to unlawfully possess a controlled substance. He also is charged with one count each of  terroristic threats and intimidation of a witness or victim.

Pittsburgh attorney Steven Townsend is representing Maines.

An alleged accomplice, Charles Albert Meyer, 32, was jailed Wednesday on similar charges.

City police said Meyer and another man, who has not been named, burst into a home in the 700 block of Highland Avenue in Moxham on Saturday looking for a package of marijuana.

A resident inside the home wrestled with the unnamed intruder, who had a gun. The gun discharged, wounding the resident in the knee and striking the intruder in the head, police said.

Police said the intruders were looking for a package of marijuana they had sent to the home, which they thought was vacant. Maines had earlier visited the home looking for the package, police said.

The marijuana was turned over to police.

Gun-theft suspect faces hearing in Md.

One suspect charged with stealing handguns from a Saxton area gun shop is scheduled for a preliminary hearing next week in Baltimore, where he was arrested following a police chase in January.

Michael J. Faircloth, 26, of Saxton, faces dozens of gun theft and stolen handgun possession charges in Baltimore.

He is scheduled to appear Wednesday in a district courtroom at the John R. Hargrove Sr. Building in Baltimore.

Faircloth was taken into custody Jan. 29 after the vehicle in which he was a passenger crashed in Baltimore during a police chase. Investigators said they found 29 guns – one loaded – in the car, along with a bag of cocaine.

Authorities said the handguns are believed to be the ones stolen a day earlier from Saxton Outdoor Supply on Raystown Road. The burglars drove a vehicle into the shop and took off with weapons.

Another Saxton man, Garrett Sherlock, 25, also is wanted for transporting the stolen weapons to Baltimore. He was driving the vehicle that crashed, police said.

District court staff in Baltimore said Sherlock was seriously injured in the crash and taken to a city hospital. He has not been served with an arrest warrant.

Handgun theft and trafficking are federal offenses. Federal Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms officials confirmed in January that they are involved in the case.  

Man fired handgun on city street, police say

A convicted felon from New York City was arrested after Johnstown police said he fired a round from a handgun in the middle of a street during a domestic argument around 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Charles Pleasants, 38, was charged with aggravated assault, persons not to possess a firearm, carrying a firearm without a license, reckless endangerment and terroristic threats. He was in the process of being taken for arraignment Thursday night.

Police alleged that Pleasants got into an argument with his girlfriend and two acquaintances. The dispute started inside a tavern and ended up in the middle of Ash Street in the Hornerstown neighborhood, where the argument escalated and Pleasant fired a round, police said.

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