Comments Off on Bath methamphetamine charges lead trio to seek plea deals

Three of the five people facing charges of operating a methamphetamine lab in Bath are seeking plea deals, their attorneys said today

Melissa A. Bailey, 36, of Bridgewater Township, N.J.; Francesco Ditaranto, 24, of the 100 block of Old Forge Drive in Bath; and Thomas Paul Mauro, 33, of Philadelphia, gave up their rights today to a preliminary hearing in district court in Nazareth. They face charges in Northampton County Court of operating a meth lab, processing liquefied ammonia gas and precursors, possession of pseudo-ephedrine, manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and causing or risking catastrophe.

In a plea agreement with the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office, attorneys for the trio said they would be seeking to lessen the charges to misdemeanors once they head in March to county court.

Mauro appeared handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit before District Judge John Capobianco, while Ditaranto and Bailey were wearing denims and shirts.

A representative of the Northampton County Pretrial Services, who declined to provide her name, requested Capobianco increase bail for Ditaranto to 10 percent of $100,000 and for Bailey, 10 percent of $75,000. Both had failed random drug screenings and tested positive for heroin, she said. The pair also didn’t show up to many scheduled screens, she said.

Capobianco then increased bail to 10 percent of $75,000 for both Ditaranto and Bailey.

Attorney Jeremy Foster Clark, representing Ditaranto, tried to argue that after his client failed the drug tests, he felt it was over and didn’t have to be present for the other screenings. He argued Ditaranto was not a flight risk and trying to get his life back on track with his family. He began a job in his father’s masonry business, Clark said.

“I think his record is pretty clean; he’s not violent,” Clark told the judge. “He’s made an effort with the Commonwealth. … He can’t afford an increase in bail.”

The pretrial services representative said she spoke with Ditaranto’s father and Ditaranto didn’t have a permanent position in the masonry business. “He’s well aware of his responsibility in showing up,” she said.

Attorney Victor Scomillio, representing Bailey, also had requested that samples of his client that came up positive for opiates be retested based on a prescription she had been taking. He argued a positive result for “heroin metabolites” also could be mistaken for a medication.

Bailey had missed one of the scheduled screens because she had been in a New Jersey court on a separate issue. She has been undergoing alcohol and drug testing in New Jersey, Scomillio said.

“I agree, your honor, I don’t think incarceration is going to solve the problem here,” he said.

But Northampton County Assistant District Attorney James Augustine told the judge he isn’t looking at the bail condition violations as a “punitive situation.”

“It’s for the safety of themselves,” Augustine said. “If they can be placed into some sort of program, by the time it takes to find that, I’m not sure where they’ll end up. If they took a test now, where would they be? There’s no way they just stopped after that last positive result.”

Following the hearing, attorney Tim Prendergast, the public defender representing Mauro, said his client had a “limited role” in the incident.

Colonial Regional police and the Pennsylvania State Police methamphetamine lab team at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 6 visited a home at 127 Old Forge Drive, Bath, to serve a search warrant, court papers say. Police found what they suspected was an operation for manufacturing methamphetamine in the second story bedroom, court documents say. Two windows were open with a box fan set up as an exhaust system as temperatures outside dipped below freezing, court papers say.

A pizza box was filled with protective gear used for handling chemicals, a trash can contained remnants of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and a glass jar with a clear liquid inside appeared to contain methamphetamine oil, court records say. Police had said Bailey and Mauro admitted the trio knew what the chemicals were used for and had been cooking meth for cash.

Police found paperwork in the home identifying Jamie Lynn Kinghorn, 36, as the occupant, court papers say. The judge said a court hearing is pending for Kinghorn.

During the incident, Colonial Regional police also took into custody Alan Woodson, 36, who lived at the address. They face similar charges to the other three, authorities have said.

Following the hearing, Augustine said he offered all three the plea deal if they cooperated with the police investigation. Authorities believe the meth lab was run by Kinghorn and Woodson, who have yet to be arraigned. Bailey, Ditaranto and Mauro were addicts who assisted in the lab to help feed their addiction, Augustine said.

Woodson’s arraignment date is Thursday in county court, according to court papers. He waived his preliminary hearing on Dec. 3, according to court papers.



Comments are closed.