HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Baltimore native who has been in the Blair County Prison for 20 months entered guilty pleas Monday to multiple drug sales and was sentenced to seven to 20 years in a state correctional institution.
A jury for the long-awaited trial of Patrick Andago Omeea Barnes, 41, who was living in Altoona as far back as 2005, was to be selected Monday, but just prior to that, a plea agreement was struck between Blair County Assistant District Attorney Peter Weeks and Barnes' lawyer, Douglas Keating.
Barnes was charged with 11 crack cocaine sales, one in 2011 and the rest in 2012.
The Altoona police and the West Drug Task Force brought Barnes' business to an end on May 24, 2012, with his arrest. He has been in the county prison since then.
According to Keating, Barnes faced a very long prison term if he went to trial and was convicted of all of the offenses against him. He faced sentence enhancements because of the weight of the crack he sold and mandatory sentences for drug sales within school zones and drug sales near playgrounds.
Keating estimated Barnes could have landed behind bars for a minimum of 40 years had he been convicted of everything.
Keating felt the sentence Barnes will end up serving is dramatically less than he probably would have gotten had he been convicted of all the offenses.
For instance, the seven-year minimum sentence could be reduced substantially if Barnes goes through several drug programs at a correctional institution.
Milliron said Barnes was eligible for the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive. Completion of those programs would lower his minimum sentence to 70 months, the judge stated.
Barnes will be granted credit for time served - 20 months - said Keating, which means he could be eligible for parole in 50 months.
Court records show police accumulated sales of crack cocaine against Barnes, beginning on April 13,
2011, and ending May 24, 2012.
Barnes has been ordered to pay $22,000 in fines plus more than $4,000 in reimbursement to police and the courts.
When Barnes was arrested in 2012, Altoona narcotics officer Troy Johannides said, "He was too greedy."
Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio said Barnes is an example of people coming to Altoona from a major metropolitan area, and, he said, "instead of being people," they turn to drug sales to make their way.
Milliron personally intervened so that Barnes could call his ailing mother to
tell her the outcome of his case.
The judge contacted the county prison and asked that Barnes be permitted to make the call.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.