‘Huge dealer’ takes plea deal

HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona man will spend 10 to 25 years in jail for running what’s being described as a major heroin-selling business.

Timothy Jerome Brown, 34, who has been incarcerated since March 20, entered pleas Monday in Blair County Court to multiple counts of criminal conspiracy to deliver heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin, criminal use of a communication facility and related offenses.

“Brown is a homegrown major drug dealer who used his contacts in major source cities to flood the Blair County area with heroin,” Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks said.

Brown was slated for trial starting Monday before Judge Timothy Sullivan on charges in six criminal cases, including ones filed after a Feb. 26, 2016, search of his 217 First Ave. residence, where police found 2,713 double-sealed heroin packets and $30,884 in cash.

At the time of the search, police said the heroin packets had a street value of $100,000.

This week’s trial testimony also was expected to include a bank teller who, while running Brown’s money through a bill counter on Feb. 25, 2016, saw a “puff” of white powder emerge and a small blue cellophane packet ejected. Altoona police were contacted after Brown left the bank, charges indicate.

Ten days before that happened, Weeks said that Brown had been in the bank with a $10,000 cash deposit.

Weeks said he was satisfied with the plea agreement in light of the significant sentence, which removes Brown from the community and keeps him under supervision for the next 24 years. Brown has been in jail almost a year, and Sullivan agreed that Brown should be credited with time served toward the negotiated sentence.

Court-appointed defense attorney Robert Donaldson said he and Brown met several times about his cases and discussed possible outcomes.

“It wasn’t a decision he made easily,” Donaldson said.

Had Brown gone to trial and been convicted, the length of his sentence would have rested with a judge. While the state used to impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes, those are no longer an option since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional.

Weeks described the 10- to 25-year sentence as a certainty for the defendant and for the prosecution.

Weeks also praised Altoona police and Blair County Drug Task Force officers who were part of a 28-month investigation that resulted in charges against Brown and others including three Philadelphia area men, William Wingate III, Dontei “Alonzo” Taylor and Isaiah Brown.

Wingate, Taylor and Isaiah Brown, identified as distributors for an unidentified Philadelphia heroin source, entered guilty pleas in July to drug-related charges in exchange for 2.5- to five-year sentences. Taylor had been at Brown’s house on Feb. 26, 2016, when police showed up with an arrest warrant for Brown as part of a roundup of drug dealers.

Charges indicate that Brown directed police to areas in his residence where they would find heroin and drug paraphernalia.

“He was confessing to what they would be able to see because he didn’t want them to find more of what was there,” Weeks said. “But we’re fortunate to have officers in Blair County who took the initiative and time to get a search warrant, which led to the heroin and cash. We almost never get both drugs and money at the same time … but he was a huge dealer.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.