Witness: Devine ‘passing drugs’
Former girlfriend tells jury she and ‘Fat Cat’ sold heroin, cocaine
HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Johnstown woman said Wednesday that she and her former boyfriend, Damon “Fat Cat” Devine, sold heroin and cocaine in the months leading up to their arrest outside an Altoona motel on Feb. 13, 2017.
Jasmine N. McGowan, now 29, said that neither she nor Devine were employed in 2016 while living on Strayer Street in Johnstown. And for the first four months of 2016, Devine was incarcerated at the Cambria County Prison.
“Where were you getting money to pay bills?” Senior Deputy Attorney General Dave Gorman asked McGowan shortly after she took the witness stand on the third day of a jury trial for Devine and co-defendants Jabu Robinson, 39, and James Everett-Bey, 42, both of Philadelphia.
“Drugs,” McGowan replied.
The trial for the three defendants, which continues today in Blair County Court, is based on a police investigation into a deadly form of heroin being sold in Blair and Cambria counties in 2016, resulting in multiple overdoses and drug-related deaths.
Based on drug-related activity, investigators identified Devine as the organization’s leader and accused him of establishing a heroin source in Trenton, N.J., then arranging for transportation of the illegal substance for sale in the Johnstown and Altoona areas. Because the heroin was marked with a stamp in the shape of a dragon, it was referred to as “Dragon” heroin.
Police also filed drug-trafficking charges against McGowan, similar to the charges filed against Devine, Robinson and Everett-Bey. But she has remained free on unsecured bail and been available to testify in court proceedings.
Devine, who is representing himself in the trial, accused McGowan on Wednesday of testifying to avoid jail.
“You hope to get probation or house arrest,” Devine said in court on Wednesday while cross-examining McGowan about a statement she made during a prior court proceeding.
“Yes,” McGowan said in response to Devine’s accusation. But she also testified that prosecutors have made no promises as to a recommended sentence in exchange for her testimony.
“You’re already getting favorable treatment,” Robinson’s attorney, Robert Donaldson, pointed out while questioning McGowan. “You’re out on unsecured bail while my client has been in jail since Aug. 15, 2016.”
Online court records show Robinson’s bail is set at $350,000 cash.
McGowan said Robinson drove Devine twice to Trenton, N.J., including on Aug. 15, 2016, when Robinson crashed outside Philadelphia while attempting to flee police. After the crash, a search of the vehicle turned up 3,750 packets of heroin and 124 grams of crack cocaine.
Everett-Bey, according to McGowan, took Devine, who doesn’t drive, on many trips to the Trenton, N.J., and Philadelphia areas to secure drugs.
“More than 10,” McGowan said when asked how many times.
Witness Anthony Freiwald, an inmate at the Cambria County Prison, said he transported Devine to numerous locations around Johnstown.
Freiwald said he was doing some home improvements for McGowan, who noticed one day that he was ill. At the time, he said he was a heroin user and McGowan told him that she had something that could help him get over the sickness.
When transporting Devine around Johnstown, Freiwald said he didn’t pay attention to what Devine was doing. But Freiwald said he knew what was going on.
“If someone came up to the car, I’d turn a blind eye to it,” Freiwald said. “He was passing drugs or collecting cash.”
McGowan also told the jury about the night of
Feb. 13, 2017, when she and Devine were arrested outside the Motel 6 in Logan Township, along with Freiwald and Devine’s mother, Barbara Tyler of Trenton, N.J.
McGowan said she and Devine were to meet Richard Govier at the motel because Govier said he had the $7,000 in cash that he owed for heroin, plus he had an additional $2,000 for more heroin.
Govier, who also testified Wednesday, said he started selling heroin to cover the expense he was incurring as a heroin user. When he owed Devine $7,000, he said Devine wouldn’t provide him with any more heroin.
Earlier in the trial, Detective Sgt. Christopher Moser told the jury about arranging to provide Govier with $9,000 in cash so Govier could tell Devine that he could pay off his debt and resume selling.
That led to a joint law enforcement effort resulting in the arrests, the recovery of the $9,000 provided to Govier and the seizure of multiple bricks of heroin and additional cash.
Like McGowan, Govier said he hopes that his testimony will be considered when he is sentenced on drug-trafficking charges. Govier said he was out of jail on bail until violating bail conditions by resuming his use of illegal drugs.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.