Blair County inmate acquitted of contraband charges

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Blair County Prison inmate was acquitted Monday of three criminal charges filed in April after prison personnel found four Suboxone strips and two cigarettes in his work boots.

Dylan Ethan Wagner, Altoona, took the stand in his own defense on Monday and denied a connection to the medication strips, typically used to reduce symptoms of opiate addiction, and the cigarettes.

“I do not smoke and I do not do drugs,” Wagner told the jury in a one-day trial before Judge Wade Kagarise.

But that doesn’t mean he didn’t bring in those hidden items, District Attorney Richard Consiglio said.

“Did you bring those items into the jail for anybody else?” Consiglio asked in cross-examination.

“No,” Wagner replied.

Assistant Public Defender David Beyer wrapped up his arguments on Wagner’s behalf by reminding the jury that no one saw Wagner in possession of the strips

or cigarettes.

Wagner had been on a work release assignment on April 9 that involved landscaping and maintenance work at a local shopping complex. Upon returning to prison, Wagner said he removed his work clothes and boots in the designated area.

He said he then put on his prison garb and went to his cell.

About 45 minutes after returning, Wagner said he was called into a prison office and presented with “some kind of orange things” and two cigarettes in pristine condition, reported to have been removed from his boots.

Hollidaysburg Borough police were called to investigate and charged Wagner with two second-degree felonies for possession of contraband by an inmate and possession of a controlled substance without authorization.

Consiglio admitted to the jurors that no one saw Wagner put the items in the boots. But the items were in his boots, Consiglio said, either for his or another inmate’s use.

Beyer suggested to the jury that others had access to Wagner’s boots, including a male inmate who entered the same area where Wagner disrobed. But the contraband was already found before the male inmate was in that area, Consiglio said.

The evidence in this case, Beyer said, isn’t strong enough to convict Wagner beyond a reasonable doubt.

“There’s drugs in the prison folks. That’s just the way it is,” Beyer said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.