Blackjack luck spirals downhill

An Altoona man associated with the Operation Last Call drug case was sentenced Thursday by Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle to 21 months to 10 years behind bars.

Mateen “Jay” Johnson, 35, who lived on the 1200 block of North 11th Avenue, was on the lam in February 2012 when he was arrested at the Philadelphia Park Racetrack and Casino in Bucks County.

He had won $2,500 playing blackjack, but when he went to claim his winnings, it was discovered there was a warrant for this arrest.

Johnson was brought back to Blair County to face two cocaine offenses.

Police contend he was an associate of Damion “Benny” Floyd of Baltimore, who is awaiting trial in Blair County as the alleged leader of a drug organization that distributed large amounts of cocaine in the Altoona area in 2010 and 2011.

After one drug transaction that occurred on March 16, 2011, undercover officers followed Johnson to the Corner Bar and Grille, 1001 Eighth Ave.

Police contend the Floyd organization processed kilos of cocaine coming from Baltimore at the bar and then distributed it to mid-level dealers.

The organization dealt in both powdered and crack cocaine, police charged.

A police affidavit also stated that Floyd was wary of selling cocaine to an individual who police were using as a confidential informant. Johnson agreed he would complete the sale.

After his arrest in the Philadelphia area, Johnson was placed in the Blair County Prison. His Thursday hearing was supposed to focus on his request for reduced bail.

Defense attorney Joel Seelye said that a plea agreement was struck, and when Seelye and Assistant District Attorney Peter Weeks appeared before Doyle, the agreement was presented for her approval.

The court proceeding lasted only a few minutes, he said.

Johnson is just one of many people arrested as a result of Operation Last Call. Three multi-week trials have been held this year, resulting in the convictions of Jermaine “Shawn” Samuel of Altoona, Rodney “Rocco” Williams of Baltimore and Kenneth J. Piner of Altoona. Samuel received a minimum jail term of 46 years and Piner of 36 years. Williams is to be sentenced in August.

Floyd is scheduled for trial in August.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.