Man questioned in Irish Valley shooting faces drug charges
MOUNT CARMEL - A borough man questioned in an attempted homicide investigation is now facing felony drug-related offenses.
Rafael Anthony Diroche Jr., 28, of 250 S. Poplar St., Apt. 3, was arraigned Tuesday via video by Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones on charges contained in a new criminal complaint filed by Trooper Kevin Kearney of state police at Stonington.
Kearney had initially charged Diroche with only the felony firearms violations. But that complaint was withdrawn Tuesday when the new offenses were filed.
Diroche was previously imprisoned on $250,000 cash bail, but with the additional charges, now remains incarcerated on $300,000 cash bail set by Jones.
Diroche now faces felonies of possession with intent to deliver marijuana, cocaine, heroin, psilocybin (mushroom), 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), receiving stolen property, possessing a firearm without a license, possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon and criminal use of a communication facility, and misdemeanors of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was arraigned on the new charges at 3:45 p.m. at Snyder County Prison, Selinsgrove.
A co-defendant in the case, Esteven Soto, 30, of 1752 Walton Ave., 6A, Bronx, N.Y., is charged with three counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, all of which are ungraded felonies, one count of illegally possessing a firearm, a second-degree felony, and three counts of possession of controlled substances, which are ungraded misdemeanors.
Soto is incarcerated at Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury in lieu of $250,000 cash bail.
The men, both convicted felons, were scheduled to have their preliminary hearings Wednesday before Jones, but the judge continued those legal proceedings until March 12 at the request of Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini. The continuance was requested in light of the new charges against Diroche.
County public defender Paige Rosini, who represents Soto, objected to her client's hearing being continued. She said she did not know if the hearings next week will be consolidated or separate.
Diroche's attorney is Michael Rudinski of Williamsport.
Both defendants were charged as police pursued an attempted homicide investigation involving Salicia Yost, 20, of Milton, who was found by a passer-by shot in the head in a vehicle that reportedly crashed into a snow pile along Irish Valley Road near Route 61 on Feb. 8.
Both men have been questioned, but neither has been charged with being involved in the incident.
Yost was in critical condition at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville for more than two weeks before being discharged Friday.
As to the probe into Yost's shooting Trooper Matthew Burrows, a state police spokesman assigned to the Milton barracks, said the investigation is continuing.
"There are no new developments beside the new charges," he said.
Diroche and Soto were jailed following their arrests Feb. 8, hours after Yost was found.
Information contained in search warrants and criminal complaints allege Diroche and Yost were observed together the day before the shooting on surveillance footage at a Lewisburg convenience store where Yost works.
Police claim Diroche and Yost were in contact through text messages and phone calls about illegal narcotics and about meeting up on Irish Valley Road.
The search warrants targeted the 2013 Chevy Sonic in which Yost was discovered along with Diroche's apartment and his 1994 Honda Accord EX, as well as Yost's cell phone and a laptop computer.
According to court documents, police allege Diroche was in possession of a .22 caliber Freedom Arms revolver when he and Soto were encountered outside 250 S. Poplar St. on the afternoon of Feb. 8.
During a search of Dircoche's apartment, police found six firearms, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, psilocybin, MDMA, LSD and other drugs, and drug paraphernalia including cutting agents, measuring devices, scales and packaging.
Police also located in a safe a Taurus .30-caliber revolver that was stolen from State College.