Man jailed after bail violation

HOLLIDAYSBURG – An Altoona man who was found guilty by a jury on a drug charge three weeks ago has been jailed for the weekend because of a violation of his bail conditions.

Brian Bantum, 38, was convicted March 25 for the illegal possession of three pills and for public drunkenness.

His sentence is pending on those charges.

However, prior to his trial for a possession charge, Bantum, according to the prosecution, was cited for terroristic threats, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness because of a skirmish with police in a bar incident earlier this year.

Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky told Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron on Thursday that he filed the violation of bail charges against Bantum prior to his March trial.

However, the hearing was not scheduled until after the trial, and Milliron decided to send Bantum to the Blair County Prison for three days.

Bantum, a Philadelphia native, is due to be released from the county prison at 9 a.m. Monday.

Milliron warned Bantum if he continues to violate his bail conditions, he will be placed back in prison until his sentencing on the possession and public drunkenness charge, which is to occur in June.

Elensky said Bantum in January was ordered by city police to leave a bar. He allegedly refused, and during the ensuing fray, Bantum allegedly tried to kick and threatened an officer.

In addition, he is accused of traveling to Philadelphia without telling the county’s adult parole and probation department and failing to show up for scheduled drug and alcohol testing conducted by a parole and probation officer.

Elensky told Milliron that Bantum’s actions were “all kinds of little stuff.”

Bantum said he had to travel to Philadelphia monthly to meet with his parole officer there. He said while in Philadelphia, he ended up being hospitalized for 10 days. He suffers, he said, from a chronic medical condition.

His attorney, Assistant Public Defender John Siford, said the prosecution just wanted Bantum in jail “sooner rather than later” and said the incident with police amounted to nothing more than an oral argument.

Bantum, when given a chance to sum up the matter, told Milliron, “I have a family out here. … I have kids out here. Is house arrest a possibility?”

Milliron told Bantum he had to uphold the bail conditions (Bantum was to abstain from criminal activity and was to undergo testing) and to show support for the parole and probation officer whose oversight of people on bail is above and beyond his regular duties.

But the judge also decided to go easy on Bantum and to sentence him to a very short time behind bars.

Bantum faces a six-month jail term stemming from his March conviction, according to the standard range of the state sentencing guidelines. This is because of a prior record.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.