Shaking as she cried, a handcuffed Filicia Moser begged to be released on unsecured bail during her arraignment Monday on multiple heroin cases.
Moser, 26, of 317 Spruce Ave. told Magisterial District Judge Paula Aigner she was fighting for custody of her 6-year-old daughter and was to attend a custody hearing today in Blair County Court.
"I beg you, please let me go home," Moser pleaded.
Moser was one of nine people targeted for arrest Monday in the latest drug sweep by state drug agents, Altoona police and members of the Blair County Drug Task Force. Seven, including Moser, were in custody by the end of the day in what police described as a mop-up operation involving street-level dealers selling mostly heroin but also prescription pills and even so-called bath salts or MDPV.
In Aigner's courtroom in Hollidaysburg, the judge explained to Moser that she didn't think unsecured bail would be appropriate.
"It's not reasonable for me, when you're already on probation for prior possession with intent to deliver, and now you're looking at enhanced penalties," Aigner told Moser as she arraigned her on charges she sold heroin twice last July.
Moser, a stay-at-home mother of two sons, ages 1 and 2, said she's been clean for two years, using Suboxone to keep off opiates, and is already on probation from a guilty plea in a drug delivery case in 2010. Aigner pointed out a detainer was likely coming from the Blair County Adult Probation and Parole Office, and under the circumstances, she wasn't going to release Moser on unsecured bail. When Moser claimed her probation officer already said a detainer wouldn't be issued, Aigner simply said, "That remains to be seen," and then set bail at $25,000 cash on each of the two cases.
A few minutes later, Moser's sister, Latricia Moser, 24, of Altoona, calmy sat in handcuffs before the judge for her arraignment on three heroin charges. Moser said she was in the process of moving and said she had been on Suboxone for the past six or seven months.
Latricia Moser said she lost custody of all four of her children, between the ages of 2 and 9 and born to two different men. After the children were taken from her by the state, they were adopted, she said.
"I don't want to go to jail," Latricia Moser told Aigner. "I finally got my life together."
Aigner set bail for Latricia Moser at $35,000 cash for each of her three cases, a scene that was repeated throughout the day.
Preliminary hearings for Monday's drug suspects are slated for May 13 before Aigner in Hollidaysburg.
"Heroin is still a major problem," said Anthony Sassano, regional director for the state Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation.
While the Johnstown area is still reeling from several heroin overdoses linked to "Seven of Hearts" stamp bags, Sassano said those particular stamp bags haven't turned up in Blair County.
Aaron Wade Walters, 24, of Johnstown was arrested in that case on Saturday after two overdose victims who recovered told police in Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, that Walters sold them the drugs in question, police said.
Police said the heroin bags were stamped with an image of a seven of hearts from a playing card. Similarly stamped heroin is believed to be responsible for other overdoses, including some fatalities, in the Johnstown-Somerset area.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458. The Associated Press contributed to this story.