By Phil Ray
HOLLIDAYSBURG - A New Jersey man who police said was carrying crack cocaine in his underwear will stand trial on four drug-related offenses, according to a decision Wednesday by Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan.
The judge refused to suppress the drugs that fell from the underwear of William D. Brown Jr., of East Orange as he was being searched by Altoona police.
Brown, through his attorney, Assistant Public Defender John Siford, asked that the drugs be barred from trial because of an illegal search by police.
A Feb. 22 vehicle stop by two officers was proper, Sullivan ruled.
They had the right to take Brown, 25, and another East Orange man, Kenneth L. Harrell, 24, into custody because they had reason to believe "criminality was afoot," Sullivan wrote.
Harrell was the driver of a vehicle that was traveling on Sixth Avenue near 22nd Street, police said. The car was stopped because a brake light was not working.
It was not Harrell that attracted police attention at first.
When the car stopped, the officers said that Brown, the passenger in the car, was "fidgeting around," reaching into his pocket. He seemed to be placing something under his leg, officers said.
They had Brown place his hands on the dashboard.
When an officer asked Brown his name, he responded "Joe Laws." He said his date of birth was March 19, 1988. He did not know his Social Security number.
Police also thought they heard him say something about New Jersey when he in fact had told officers he was from Williamsport. The officers were unable to find the name Joe Laws in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Sullivan's opinion stated Harrell also gave a false name.
Officials next found marijuana in the vehicle, which Harrell admitted belonged to him.
Four plastic bags were hanging from Brown's back pocket.
Police also determined neither man was the owner of the car. It was owned by Harrell's girlfriend.
Based on the false names that were given, the plastic bags, the marijuana and the lack of knowledge as to who owned the vehicle, police took the two men into custody, Sullivan ruled.
A fingerprint check of "Joe Laws" indicated his true name was William D. Brown Jr.
The "totality of the circumstances" was enough for police to have "reasonable suspicion" to justify the detention of both men, Sullivan said.
Further investigation turned up at least two warrants for Brown, including one from Clinton County.
Brown faces trial on charges of possession with intent to deliver, possession of illegal drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and presenting a false identification to law enforcement.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.