Probe: Shamokin man made 100 trips to Philly for heroin to sell locally
SHAMOKIN - After a grand jury investigation, multiple felony charges have been filed against a Shamokin man accused of making regular trips to Philadelphia County for two years and bringing back heroin to sell in Northumberland County.
Christian Lee Kehler, 36, of 1114 N. Shamokin St., was charged Tuesday by Agent David Jordan of the state Attorney General's office and Mount Carmel Township Patrolman David Stamets Jr. with 10 criminal offenses involving incidents between November 2011 and Oct. 17, 2013.
According to a criminal complaint, Kehler is accused of delivering the heroin in multiple bundle and brick quantities and conspiring with others to sell the drug.
$4 bag become $20 to $25
Police reported Kehler possessed with the intent to deliver 81 bags of heroin and 28 methadone tablets in Mount Carmel Township that were found Oct. 17 in his vehicle along Route 901 as a result of a DUI arrest and execution of a search warrant.
Stamets reported a blood sample taken from Kehler indicated he was under the influence of morphine, cocaine and opiates. Kehler told Stamets he drives to Philadelphia for heroin and pays $4 for each bag, which he can sell in the Shamokin area for $20 to $25.
Witnesses testified to the grand jury that Kehler had been driving to Philadelphia for heroin since 2012 and that he was getting as many as 50 bundles on each trip. A witness who traveled to Philadelphia for Kehler paid $1,500 for 20 bundles of heroin; each bundle contained 14 bags. The witness said he bought heroin from Kehler more than 100 times and that one of Kehler's Philadelphia heroin sources was known as "Debo."
Witnesses also testified that Kehler, his cousin Konrad Kehler and Ray Eltringham were arrested in Philadelphia July 19, 2012, on drug charges after being found in possession of 30 bundles of heroin that Christian Kehler and Eltringham had just purchased, police said.
More than 100 trips
Several witnesses testified to being conspirators with Kehler and accompanying him to Philadelphia for heroin. Some of them would receive heroin as payment, while others traveled with Kehler's drug money before returning to Northumberland County with the purchased heroin.
According to the grand jury investigation, some of the heroin would go to Kehler for use and distribution, while the conspirators would keep the rest for their own use and distribution.
It is estimated that Kehler or his associates made more than 100 trips to Philadelphia.
Kehler is charged with felonies of possession with intent to deliver heroin (two counts), delivery of heroin, criminal conspiracy, criminal use of a communication facility, possession with intent to deliver methadone, and misdemeanors of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, driving under the influence of a combination of drugs, possession of heroin and possession of methadone.
Kehler, who waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the charges Tuesday, was released on $50,000 unsecured bail. He is scheduled for plea court April 28 at Northumberland County Courthouse in Sunbury, where he can plead guilty or no contest, or plead not guilty and seek a trial.