Mandatory sentences sought for cocaine dealer

HOLLIDAYSBURG – The prosecution will ask Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron to impose mandatory sentences on Jermaine Samuel, who was convicted in January on 10 drug-related offenses stemming from the sale of cocaine from the Corner Bar and Grille in Altoona.

Samuel, 33, was convicted as being one of the leaders of a drug organization that was operating out of the bar in 2010 and 2011. His sentencing is set for April 12.

Samuel’s attorney, Matthew Gieg, argued that Samuel was never caught by police with drugs on his possession and that there was no evidence, aside from testimony of others involved in the drug business, that Samuel played a key role in the distribution of many kilos of cocaine throughout the city.

Blair County Assistant District Attorney Peter Weeks has filed a formal notice of intent with the court, asking for the mandatory sentences because of the amount of the cocaine Samuel sold from Jan. 11 to Nov. 4, 2011 – more than 1,000 grams; for conspiracy to sell the cocaine; and for the delivery of cocaine weighing more than 100 grams as an additional offense.

Those three charges could mean a minimum of 21 years in prison.

Weeks and Senior Deputy District Attorney Dave Gorman prosecuted Samuel during a two-week trial in January.

While many of the witnesses were drug abusers, police also used phone taps and surveillance to link Samuel to the group that regularly brought cocaine from Baltimore to Altoona, where it was sold as powdered cocaine or crack.

The prosecution must notify the sentencing judge when seeking imposition of mandatory sentences. The judge could impose the mandatory sentences or go beyond them and impose longer sentences.

According to trial testimony, Samuel and Natasha Miller of Altoona became the top figures in a drug ring led by Damion Floyd of Baltimore.

Floyd was sentenced to prison for four years as the result of a drug arrest in Bedford County. While incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Floyd enlisted his girlfriend, Miller, now serving 16 to 32 years in prison, and Samuel, to operate the organization.

Police claim they conspired with another Floyd associate, Rodney Williams of Baltimore, to arrange for regular shipments of cocaine to the Altoona area.

Officers arrested Samuel, Miller, Williams and Floyd, among others, in November 2011.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.