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Bellefonte Man Accused of Selling Heroin

by on May 18, 2017 6:37 PM

Police say a Bellefonte man sold heroin in State College and was involved in a bust that resulted in charges against two Ohio men in March.

According to a criminal complaint, State College Police learned in February that a confidential informant had purchased heroin 10 to 15 times in the past from Stephen J. Watkins, 31.

Police said that on March 1 the informant contacted Watkins via Facebook message and arranged to buy a bundle of 10 bags of heroin for $140. Under police surveillance, the informant met Watkins in the parking lot of CVS on East Beaver Avenue , got in his SUV and exchanged $140 for 10 bags of suspected heroin.

The bags were later sent to the Pennsylvania State Police Regional Laboratory and confirmed to contain heroin.

On March 23, the informant reportedly arranged again through Facebook messages to buy two bundles of heroin from Watkins for $300. The informant met Watkins at the CVS parking lot and exchanged $300 for a cigar box containing 20 glassine bags of suspected heroin. According to an affidavit of probable cause filed in March, Watkins told the informant that he knew of some men who had brought "dope and crystal meth" to the area to sell.

Police followed Watkins' SUV to the 200 block of Easterly Parkway where a traffic stop was initiated. Watkins and a passenger, who has not as of yet been charged, were both placed under arrest and agreed to give statements. They were released and told they would be charged at a later date.

On Tuesday, Watkins was charged with four felony counts of possession with intent to deliver, two felony counts of criminal use of a communication facility, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance. He was arraigned before District Judge Steven Lachman, with unsecured bail set at $50,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 24

According to the complaint filed in March, Watkins told police that three men had brought heroin to the Super 8 Motel on South Atherton Street. He said he rented the room for them and signed a written consent for the room to be searched, according to the complaint. He allegedly told police he had been given the bundles by two of the men, Richard Phelps and Michael Lopez, both of Elyira, Ohio.

Police said they arrived at the room and found a plastic bag containing 10 bags of suspected heroin floating in the toilet. Some of the bags were identical to those the informant had purchased, according to the complaint.

With the assistance of a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper and a drug detection dog, police executed a search warrant on the motel room. During the search they allegedly found multiple bags containing suspected heroin and heroin residue, suspected methamphetamine, marijuana, metal spoons with suspected heroin residue, hypodermic needles, syringes, a digital scale and plastic bags. Police said some of the heroin and methamphetamine was found in Phelps' and Lopez's pockets

One man in the room, who has not as of yet been charged, allegedly told police that Phelps and Lopez picked up the heroin in Ohio after talking to the seller about bringing heroin to State College to sell. Police said the man told them once they arrived at the motel Phelps and Lopez packaged the heroin in bags to be sold.

Phelps, 49, was charged with five felony counts of possession with intent to deliver, two felony counts of conspiracy, two misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Lopez, 43, was charged with four felony counts of possession with intent to deliver, a felony count of criminal use of a communication facility, three misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance, and misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana possession.

Both Phelps and Lopez waived preliminary hearings and have pre-trial conferences scheduled for later this month, according to court records. Both are still being held in the Centre County Correctional Facility having been unable to post $100,000 bail.

 



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at geoff.rushton@statecollege.com or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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