Alleged Bedford dealers arrested
BEDFORD – Bedford County police charged 21 suspected drug dealers – including a mother-son pair and a married couple – in a Tuesday-morning sweep that left 14 suspects behind bars.
Following controlled drug purchases that date as far back as July 2011, police from several departments apprehended the alleged dealers Tuesday across Bedford and southern Huntingdon counties.
Authorities dubbed the raids “Operation March Madness” in keeping with a seasonal tradition. It’s the 11th such Bedford County operation since 2004, District Attorney Bill Higgins said at a press conference.
“Usually we get right to work the same day, trying to round up the next batch,” Higgins said. “One leads to the next. People are always willing to talk when they get in trouble.”
The 14 arrested were mostly low-level dealers, he said; many face single charges for selling prescription pills, ecstasy or heroin to police informants.
They include Rochelle June Leighty, 51, and J. Russell Anthony Breece, 28, a Bedford mother and son who allegedly worked together in August to sell $190 worth of hydrocodone pills in a gas station parking lot. Breece counted the cash and handed it to his mother while his girlfriend waited in their car, police said in an affidavit.
Anthony Gamly Jr., 60, former owner of Tony’s Bar in Riddlesburg, allegedly sold oxycodone pills in his shuttered tavern. Police said that, in a September deal, he allegedly passed off over-the-counter pain medication as more powerful prescription drugs before alluding to future cocaine and ecstasy shipments.
On Tuesday, sheriffs’ deputies marched the shackled suspects for arraignment before Everett Magisterial District Judge Kathy Calhoun. Some swapped jail stories and discussed new amenities at the Bedford County Prison.
“I tried to make some money for us … I did it the stupid way,” one suspect told a relative on a court phone. “Now I’ve got two years off the bat.”
Those arraigned in Everett included Michael Lee Ilgen, 27, and Holly Kay Ilgen, 43, a Fishertown couple accused of selling hydrodocone in front of a state trooper’s car. Michael Lee Ilgen allegedly met an informant for a second hydrocodone deal on Valentine’s Day.
Seven suspects remained at large Tuesday afternoon, though police said they were confident two would be apprehended quickly.
The remaining five – Devon Michael Shirley, 21, of Bedford; Quincy Edward DeGeorgio, 20, of Bedford; Matthew Allen Calhoun, 32, of Breezewood; Jeffrey Matzka, 25, of Hyndman; and Wayne Eugene Brant Jr., 19, of Robertsdale – might be harder to track down, state police Sgt. Bradley Hershey said.
“We’ve exhausted any information we’ve had on them,” Hershey said. “They do bounce around quite a bit.”
Hershey encouraged anyone with knowledge of the remaining suspects’ whereabouts to contact police.
Higgins said the alleged dealers swept up in the operation got their drugs from cities including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The arrests will likely impact the Bedford County drug trade in the coming days or weeks, he said, before other alleged dealers regain their confidence.