Police say heroin suspect swallowed drug stash

One man is in the hospital and another in jail after an alleged heroin sale in Altoona.

Mark R. Bynum Jr., 35, of 1801 Eighth Ave. was arrested Monday afternoon after allegedly supplying Shawn R. Belardi, 34, of 114 Belardi Drive, Williamsburg, with a one-half gram of heroin that Belardi had arranged to sell to a police informant, according to Altoona police.

Bynum was taken into custody after the sale, but Belardi managed to give police the slip after delivering the heroin to the informant, according to Altoona police Lt. Jeffrey Pratt.

Bynum allegedly swallowed his stash of heroin and had to be taken from his Altoona police holding cell to UPMC Altoona for a suspected heroin overdose.

“He apparently ingested an unknown quantity of heroin,” Pratt said.

It all started Monday afternoon when the informant arranged with Belardi to buy one-half gram of heroin for $100, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

Belardi had the informant meet him at the side parking lot of IDA Towers on 1000 block of 12th Street about 1:35 p.m. Once Belardi had the money, police followed him to the 1300 block of 21st Avenue, with stops at a convenience store and gas station along the way, police said. A few minutes after Belardi arrived and parked, Bynum pulled up, got out of his car and walked to Belardi’s driver’s side window, police said.

After Bynum returned to his car and both men pulled away, officers stopped Byum’s car at 10th Street and 16th Avenue, police said. Police said Bynum had $60 of the marked bills used in the sale on him as well as an additional $20 and a cellphone.

Belardi was also tailed by officers with the Blair County Drug Task Force, but when officers began to suspect he knew he was being followed by the way he was driving, police pulled back and returned to assist with Bynum, police said.

When police called Belardi later and told him to turn himself in, he allegedly refused, but since police knew what vehicle he drove and where his mother lives, officers were on the lookout for him Tuesday.

Pratt said he encountered Belardi in the IDA Tower parking lot about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and that Belardi ran after Pratt told him he was under arrest. Pratt said Belardi jumped a fence and ran east, but Pratt was able to keep Belardi in his sight until backup arrived. Police ultimately found Belardi hiding behind a bush near Ninth Avenue and 11th Street where he was taken into custody, police noted.

Belardi was arraigned on drug and flight to avoid apprehension charges Tuesday afternoon. Belardi was taken to Blair County Prison after Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Auker set bail at $20,000 cash. Bynum, who was admitted to the UPMC Altoona Intensive Care Unit Monday, will be arraigned on drug charges when he is released from the hospital, Pratt noted.

Belardi’s preliminary hearing is slated for June 25 at Central Court.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.