Man takes on extra jail time

Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan presided over a drug case late last week that he said showed undoubtedly “chivalry is not dead.”

The case involved Sean J. Graham, 38, and Melissa R. Shaw, 45, who have been living together at 2809 S. 10th Ave., for several years.

Under plea agreements accepted by the judge, Graham will serve 15-30 years in a state correctional institution and 10 years probation, which went into effect Friday as a way to assure Graham will remain a law-abiding citizen until his report date to prison next Jan. 7.

Shaw’s sentence ended up being 11-23 months in the Blair County Prison and five years probation on reduced charges.

What led to Sullivan’s comment about chivalry was that Graham agreed to serve five extra years in prison if prosecutors would reduce his girlfriend’s primary charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. Sullivan accepted the plea agreements and imposed the recommended sentences.

It all began in March 2011 when the West Drug Task Force, after making a drug buy, decided to raid the couple’s home, and what they found got Graham and Shaw in a lot of trouble. Both were charged with drug offenses including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 275 grams of cocaine, which is nearly a third of a kilo, Blair County Assistant District attorney Peter Weeks said.

Graham was charged with illegal possession of a firearm because he had a 2002 conviction for a drug offense.

Police in the raid on the couple’s home found a .30-06 Remington rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun.

And, the home contained drug paraphernalia including a scale, a check weight, baggies, cellphones, and a stash of $21,053 cash.

Graham faced a minimum of 40 years in prison and Shaw, if found guilty of a felony, faced the loss of her business, Shaw’s Bar at 331 N. Fifth Ave.

Weeks said Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio gave his permission for the deal allowing Graham to spend an extra five years in prison so that Shaw could plead to less serious charges.

Shaw’s attorney Thomas M. Dickey is the person who came up with the idea for a compromise.

Graham’s attorney, Steven P. Passarello, balked at the suggestion and said Graham’s okay to proceed with such an unusual deal was against his advice.

The judge decided to probe a little deeper into the plea deal. Why, he wanted to know, was Graham willing to accept additional time behind bars?

“Just so hopefully my girlfriend doesn’t lose the bar. It was all my fault,” Graham explained.

Sullivan presented another possibility. He told Graham even if Shaw pulls out of their personal relationship after sentencing, he is still stuck with the agreement to serve more time behind bars? Graham said he understood.

For the next three months, both will be permitted to work at Shaw’s Juniata bar.

Graham will even be permitted to drink if he wants to.

Passarello suggested the no-drinking provision, usually in effect for someone awaiting sentence, be lifted in this case, pointing out Graham should not be prohibited a couple of beers in light of the lengthy jail sentence he must serve.

Sullivan didn’t impose a “no-drinking” prohibition but said Graham was not permitted to become under the influence while awaiting jail.

According to charging documents, a confidential informant alerted police that he could purchase cocaine from a street dealer. Investigators placed the street dealer under surveillance and found that he went to a dwelling where Graham and Shaw lived.

Weeks explained Tuesday that an unusual situation occurred. The street dealer called the informant and said he had given him too much cocaine and he needed him to return some.

Investigators, Weeks said, were concerned about giving several grams of cocaine back to a dealer, who would be distributing them throughout the community. Police decided instead to bring a halt to the operation.

Police, Weeks said, never had the opportunity to trace the source of Graham’s drugs.

Shaw was charged with conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, several counts of possession of controlled substances, as well as two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Graham received 10-20 years for conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver and 5-10 years for the illegal possession of a firearm, the sentences to run consecutively.

Shaw was informed during her hearing that there may be an inquiry into her continued ownership of her bar by the Liquor Control Board. It was agreed during the hearing none of the charges involved the bar.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.