Devine seeks release on bail

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Philadelphia man accused of running an organization that distributed large amounts of heroin and cocaine in the the Altoona and Johnstown areas is seeking to get out of jail on bail in another case.

Damon Tyshawn “Fat Cat” Devine, represented in Blair County Court Thursday by Assistant Public Defender John Siford, has asked for nominal bail in his aggravated assault case because it

didn’t come to trial within 180 days of his arrest in September.

In that case, Devine’s bail is set at $50,000 cash. He is accused of assaulting co-defendant Blaine Jackson on July 31, 2017, outside a court hearing.

Devine was allegedly reading a court document detailing the charges when he became angry with Jackson and struck him.

Judge Elizabeth Doyle, who heard Devine’s request for nominal bail, pointed out that a bail ruling in the aggravated assault case won’t affect the $1 million cash bail in Devine’s drug-trafficking case. Those charges were filed based on a grand jury investigation.

Devine also has filed a bail modification request in the drug-trafficking case, Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks told the judge.

Doyle, who took no immediate action on Devine’s request, ordered a transcript of Thursday’s proceedings.

Weeks acknowledged that based on the passage of time on the aggravated assault case, Devine might be entitled to nominal bail. But that request could be denied, Weeks said, if the judge concludes that Devine isn’t a candidate for bail based on his past criminal history, which includes drug-trafficking and escape charges.

Another option, Weeks said, would be for the judge to impose restrictive bail conditions.

“This defendant is simply too dangerous for nominal bail,” Weeks said to Doyle.

In support of that position, Weeks asked Detective Sgt. Christopher Moser to testify about the investigation into Devine’s drug-trafficking operation.

Moser said officers had been looking into the sale of heroin stamped “Dragon” when they were able to arrange a controlled buy and arrest Devine in early 2017. Agents seized 10 to 15 bricks of heroin with 50 packets in each brick, Moser said.

Devine also faces an escape charge based on an incident in Montgomery County where he and Jabu Robinson tried to flee police and crashed their vehicle. A search of the vehicle yielded 3,750 packets of heroin and 124 grams of crack.

Devine told Doyle that he should have nominal bail in the aggravated assault case because he has done nothing to delay that case.

“The delay came about because Mr. Weeks wanted to join the cases,” Devine said in reference to the aggravated assault and drug-trafficking cases. “I didn’t put in any continuance requests.”

Weeks acknowledged that he would like to see the criminal cases joined, but they could be considered separately. Since taking over Devine’s aggravated assault case in March, Weeks said he has made three attempts to get the aggravated assault case on the trial schedule. Meanwhile, other cases took priority.

Judge Daniel Milliron, who is presiding over the drug-trafficking cases filed against Devine and co-defendants, said Monday that he would like to schedule Devine and Robinson for trial in late September or October.

Milliron is also the likely judge to receive and answer Devine’s request for modification of his $1 million cash bail in the drug-trafficking case.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.