Bedford man gets longer sentence
McFarland to spend 2-4 years in prison on drug offenses
HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Bedford County man convicted in February of two criminal offenses linking him to an Altoona methamphetamine lab was resentenced Monday to two to four years in prison.
In June, Jeffrey D. McFarland, 59, Defiance, was sentenced to three months to two years in prison.
Further review of the law, Judge Daniel J. Milliron said Monday, led him to conclude that the two-year minimum incarceration period was applicable to McFarland’s conviction of manufacturing, delivery or possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine.
Based on the new sentence, McFarland is expected to report to Blair County Prison on Oct. 21 unless he appeals. Once an appeal is filed, Milliron said he will consider permitting McFarland to remain free on bail pending appeal.
Defense attorney Karen Kuebler of Bellefonte has already identified several trial and post-trial issues. She said Monday that they’re being forwarded to the county public defender’s office, which has been appointed to represent McFarland and, if desired, pursue his appeal.
McFarland and Kuebler participated in Monday’s resentencing via video transmission from her office conference room, an arrangement aimed at reducing the spreading COVID-19 during an ongoing pandemic.
Assistant District Attorney Katelyn Hoover, whose office is down the hall from Milliron’s courtroom, also participated by video in McFarland’s resentencing.
At the June sentencing and in a post-sentence motion, Hoover said the state’s two-year minimum incarceration sentence was applicable based on the jury’s conclusion.
A police investigation revealed that McFarland, in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was repeatedly buying cold medication from local drug stores in Blair and Bedford counties. The medication, Hoover said, contains a key ingredient — pseudoephedrine — for making methamphetamine, which led the jury to render guilty verdicts on charges of manufacturing, delivery or possession with intent to deliver meth and criminal conspiracy to manufacture, deliver or possession with intent to deliver meth.
Kuebler tried to convince Milliron that the convictions weren’t justified because the jury acquitted McFarland of possession offenses. Possession, she said, is a necessary element to support the convictions the jury reached.
Milliron acknowledged “the mixed verdict” but took no action to disturb it.
“My job isn’t to try to unravel what went on in that deliberation room,” Milliron said.
Kuebler’s post-trial motions also raised questions about an investigating police officer’s testimony about drug store purchasing logs. She questioned the accuracy of the logs and how they were created. Milliron said her argument may have “a little bit of merit” and that perhaps someone other than the officer should have been called to address how the logs are created and maintained. But Milliron, who presided over the trial, found no fault with the officer’s testimony, which focused on a review of the logs and the information gleaned.
Kuebler also tried to challenge the verdicts by pointing out that no evidence ties McFarland’s cold/sinus medication purchases to the meth that was being made at a residence on the 2800 block of Pine Avenue. That’s where sheriff deputies, in March 2018, arrested Shawn Amick on a warrant and where they and Altoona police noticed meth-making materials, prompting the arrest of Mary Blackie, who lived at the residence with Amick.
McFarland and his brother, Randolph, were also at the residence that day, and while initially released, police filed charges against them two months later.
Randolph McFarland, who was tried with his brother and convicted of the same offenses as Jeffrey McFarland, is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 5.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.