City woman faces up to 15 years in jail after plea to drug charges

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A 35-year-old Altoona woman was sentenced Friday to three to 15 years in a state correctional institution after entering a guilty plea to drug-related charges.

On Nov. 30, police went to a home at 2319 Maple Ave. in response to reports that neighbors saw a man with a gun.

When officers arrived about midnight, Mandy Pierce answered the door and permitted police to enter.

According to a police affidavit, officers heard people upstairs in the home.

Police began to search for individuals as a safety check, and in the home’s attic they found two storage areas.

They opened one area and found Jalaal Ibn Battle, 18, of Johnstown.

They also found a bag of marijuana, a smoking pipe and plastic bags of heroin and crack cocaine.

They found $5,385 hidden in a black sock. The money was in denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5.

In another part of the home, they located a third suspect, Michael E. Mitchell, 18, of Altoona.

A search warrant was approved by Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio and Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Auker.

Six bags of suspected crack cocaine were found in a purse in Pierce’s room. Police also located a firearm in the home.

Assistant Public Defender Ed Ferguson represented Pierce on Friday when she appeared in front of Blair County Judge Wade Kagarise.

The judge sentenced her on charges of possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver.

Kagarise ruled that Pierce was not eligible for a state program that would reduce her minimum sentence by 25 percent, called the Risk Recidivism Rehabilitation Initiative.

Pierce is not eligible for RRRI because of a past conviction for assault.

Court records show Battle and Mitchell are still awaiting disposition of their cases.