JOHNSTOWN - Gerald Lowmaster, the father of the alleged leader of a major drug organization headquartered in Carrolltown, Cambria County, was sentenced Thursday to 46 months in a federal prison.
The 67-year-old Lowmaster, who owned and managed the now-closed Gerry's Tavern on Main Street, Carrolltown, for 40 years, was charged with conspiracy to help his son, George, launder money from the drug operation.
Police broke up the organization in 2011. Many of those suspects have been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson.
Gerald is only the second to receive a prison term. So far, the rest have received probation.
He will be on three years of supervised release after his prison term has been completed, according to Gibson's sentence.
Although fines could have been substantial, Gibson did not impose one because of Lowmaster's financial condition.
Gerald Lowmaster's attorney, Russell Heiple of Johnstown, asked Gibson to place Lowmaster on probation or grant house arrest.
Heiple depicted Gerald Lowmaster as a person who played a minor role in the organization, which police said took in millions of dollars from 2008-11.
The prosecution, led by U.S. Attorney John Valkovci Jr., reported that George Lowmaster purchased $1.8 million worth of marijuana from a source in Oregon. George Lowmaster also distributed cocaine and pills, according to the charges against him.
George Lowmaster is scheduled to be sentenced in May.
Gerald Lowmaster, his attorney argued, had very little part in his son's operation.
The elder Lowmaster allegedly used funds from his son to buy supplies for his bar and to remodel
He also was registered as the owner of a 1995 Fleetwood motor home that George paid for.
In all, Gerald Lowmaster was charged with laundering $107,000 in what the prosecution maintained was George's drug money.
Gerald Lowmaster also admitted to giving packages to people who came into the bar, carrying out his son's instructions.
Heiple argued that Gerald Lowmaster had no part in exchanging money for drugs or in the distribution of the drugs.
His impact of the organization, he said, was "nil."
"He could have gone on vacation for 12 months, and the drug [organization] would have kept humming," said Heiple.
In a sentencing memorandum, Heiple stated, "Clearly, Gerald had very little impact in George's operation. He did not make decisions: He did not exercise any control."
Valkovci argued that the defense did not make its case that Gerald was only a "minor" player.
He was an "integral part" in helping George Lowmaster launder the money, the prosecutor said.
Gerald Lowmaster, he said, spent a substantial amount of money refurbishing his bar, he argued.
Gibson rejected the request to affirm the dad played only a "minor role."
"I'm very sorry for everything that happened," Gerald Lowmaster told the judge.
He said George as a teenager caused a lot of problems for he and his wife of 44 years, Marguerite.
He said George twice has been sentenced to prison, but noted after George purchased a home next to his, he decided to make up with him.
He said he "just got sucked in," in explaining how he became involved in the drug operation.
Lowmaster is a Spangler native who married his wife after a tour in the Navy. He bought the tavern in 1972.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.