FEDS CHARGE KULPMONT MAN
WILLIAMSPORT - A Kulpmont man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he and a Columbia County man obtained drugs in New York to distribute throughout Northumberland, Columbia and Luzerne counties.
Jeffrey "Alheat" Tripp, 26, of 943 Chestnut St. (Route 61), and Renard "Black" Durant, 25, of 567 W. Main St., Bloomsburg, were indicted Thursday on seven counts of distribution of a controlled substance and a charge of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
A scheduling order filed Friday by Judge Christopher C. Conner says jury selection will begin on Sept. 4 at the federal courthouse in Williamsport, with the trial to begin shortly thereafter.
U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith said in a U.S. Department of Justice press release that both men were arrested on June 19. The original complaint was sworn by Mount Carmel Borough Police Sgt. Todd Owens, a deputized task force member for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to the indictment, Durant and Tripp conspired to obtain heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana from New York and brought the drugs into the three counties for others to purchase
The indictment also alleges Durant and Tripp used their residences to keep and store the illegal drugs, cash and other materials used to process and re-package the drugs.
Tripp is accused of distributing 14 bags of heroin on May 9, six bags of crack cocaine on May 16 and seven bags of crack cocaine on June 14, all in Northumberland County.
Durant is charged with distributing four bags of marijuana on Nov. 16, 2011, 30 bags of heroin on March 29, four bags of crack cocaine on April 5, and five bags of heroin on June 19, all in Columbia County.
Both men have pleaded not guilty. If convicted on all charges, each faces a total maximum term of 120 years in prison, a lifetime supervised release term, fines of up to $6 million and special assessment of $600.
Tripp and Durant are being held without bail, but the press release does not say where. Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Rocktashel, who is prosecuting the case, said Tuesday he could not provide any further information.
The defendants have reserved the right to seek bail at a later date, according to a detention order filed in the case.
The case was investigated by members of the Pennsylvania State Police, Columbia County Drug Task Force and the FBI office in Williamsport. An indictment is a formal accusation from a grand jury that initiates a criminal case. It is typically required for felonies and other serious crimes.
Tripp also has a case pending in Northumberland County Court. He faces charges of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property for allegedly stealing a laptop computer in November in Mount Carmel Township.