Coke, heroin sales lead to arrest
MOUNT CARMEL - An Elysburg man faces a dozen charges following a state grand jury investigation into accusations he sold cocaine and heroin in eastern Northumberland County over a 2 1/2-year period.
Charles T. Picarella Jr., 33, of 869 W. Valley Ave., Apt. 2, is charged with nine felony counts of possession with intent to deliver, one felony count each of illegal possession of a firearm and criminal use of a communication facility, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police allege he sold or possessed more than 5 1/2 ounces of cocaine and more than 1 1/2 ounces of heroin in the Shamokin, Mount Carmel and Elysburg area during the period they investigated, some of which he allegedly sold while working at a family business.
The investigation includes eye witness testimony from various sources, some described in court papers as witnesses and others as conspirators. The state attorney general's office would not comment on whether or not the witnesses or conspirators were cooperating confidential informants or if charges were pending against others involved in the investigation.
The charges were filed jointly Wednesday by Patrolman Christopher Grow of Ralpho Township Police and Agent David Jordan of the state Office of Attorney General.
Picarella, who had already been incarcerated at SCI-Mahanoy on a parole violation, was arraigned Friday by Magisterial District Judge Hugh A. Jones.
The judge denied Picarella's request to have his bail reduced from $100,000 cash to unsecured so that he would return to the state facility where he expected to remain for about two years, and so as "not to burden the taxpayers of Northumberland County" if he were to be remanded to the county jail in Sunbury. He was transported to Montour County Jail, Danville, ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. April 29 at Jones' courtroom.
Arrested in October
Picarella was arrested Oct. 4, 2012, after a parole agent allegedly found 20.7 grams of cocaine, various prescription pills and drug packaging paraphernalia inside a car at his home. He has a prior felony conviction and is not permitted to possess a firearm, authorities say.
Unidentified witnesses say they purchased from Picarella cocaine and heroin between April 2010 and Oct. 4, 2012 at various intervals. He's said to have purchased heroin from a source in Wilkes-Barre during 2012 and sold to more than 10 customers in and around the Shamokin area. The buys were allegedly set up through telephone calls and text messages, witnesses said, and some sales came through people allegedly working for him.
Another instance alleged by an eyewitness was Picarella's purchase of $1,800 in cocaine in September 2012 at a convenience store in Lavelle.
Drugs were allegedly stored in properties he owned in Shamokin and Mount Carmel, including a Shamokin garage "controlled by conspirators."
Police say unnamed conspirators went to his Mount Carmel property and retrieved various amounts of heroin after his arrest.