by Jonathan Weaver
A majority of the alleged narcotics dealers and gun thieves arrested in Ford City early this month all waived their rights to a preliminary hearing yesterday morning.
April 1, Ford City, Manor Township and Kittanning Borough Police officers, along with Pennsylvania State Police troopers arrested Hank Kromer and Stephanie Swindler – both from Ford City -, Chaunie Bennett of Templeton, Jayvon Craighead of Penn Hills and Marquis Rosser of Pittsburgh in a search warrant at 903 Fifth Ave in Ford City Borough.
All five individuals had their chance to plead their case before District Magisterial Judge Gary DeComo, but three of the five waived the hearing. Rosser and Kromer’s hearings were continued until next month.
According to court affidavits filed April 2, Ford City Police received a search warrant for the residence belonging to Swindler and executed a search warrant shortly before midnight that evening.
After securing several individuals inside the apartment, officers observed drug paraphernalia and illegal narcotics in plain view. Troopers later found suspected heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine in the residence, as well as stamp bags, Xanax pills and a burnt metal spoon among other items such as two stolen handguns.
Ford City Borough Police Chief Roger Wright said the suspected illegal activity has been “ongoing” for some time in the municipality.
“The aforementioned residence had been known to this department to be one of the largest and most complex dealers of illegal narcotics in our borough,” Chief Wright wrote in a previous news release.
All five individuals are charged with either one or two counts of felony receiving stolen property, felony possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, felony corrupt organizations and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Ford City Police Sergeant Johnathan Freel said Monday he received information from ARMNET Area Coordinator Frank Pitzer that led to the search warrant.
“In this day in age, you need to have the cooperation of other departments. It felt good getting everybody involved,” Sergeant Freel said. “It’s something we see, and we do feel helpless at times to do anything about it just because police officers are restricted by laws – criminals are not.
“A lot of good work transpired that night, and we got lucky. In the end, it took every last one of us to pull that off.”
The five suspected dealers are all being held in the Armstrong County Jail in Rayburn Township.