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Informant describes alleged drug deal

Shepard on trial, facing charges he sold meth, fentanyl

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Clearfield County woman told a Blair County jury on Wednesday that she made trips to Altoona in 2018 to buy drugs, including a transaction in which she paid a dealer for drugs she later received from Gerell Shepard Sr.

Shepard, who is accusing the woman of lying, is challenging his criminal charges that include possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and fentanyl.

“He said he had ‘the clothes,'” the woman said as she read a 2018 cellphone text message collected during a police investigation into an organized drug ring that brought thousands of dollars of methamphetamine to Blair County from Philadelphia.

She said “clothes” was a code word, meaning that Shepard had a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine that she was waiting for. She said she had already paid Shawn “LS” Jackson for the methamphetamine and that Jackson directed her to Shepard.

In late September, Jackson rendered guilty pleas to several drug offenses.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Richard Corcoran pointed out to the woman that her text message exchange with Shepard had a single reference to “clothes” and no references to drugs.

“I’ve never directly spoken with anyone about buying drugs,” the woman said. “Everything was always coded.”

State Deputy Attorney General Michael Madeira put Altoona Police Sgt. Christopher Moser on the witness stand to help the jury connect the woman to Shepard.

Moser said that in late 2018, narcotics officers were working with the woman to have her buy drugs from Jackson under their surveillance.

On the day she was to meet Jackson at an Altoona motel to make the purchase, she said Jackson told her to leave immediately because Jackson had spotted what he knew to be Moser’s vehicle.

Within a day or two, she said, she gave $450 to Jackson for methamphetamine but didn’t get any drugs. She said Jackson told her he was in the process of replenishing his supply and sent her to Shepard.

Corcoran pointed out that Shepard’s text message about “the clothes” was sent on Oct. 24, 2018, but she didn’t meet with Shepard until 10 days later.

Corcoran also asked the woman when she decided to work with police, and she said she was in the county prison when she contacted Moser.

“You’d do anything to get out of prison?” Corcoran asked her, prompting her to reply: “No, not anything.”

Judge Jackie Bernard is presiding over Shepard’s trial, which was scheduled through Friday but is expected to wrap up today.

Of the defendants charged in the drug-trafficking organization — revealed in February 2020 by the state attorney general’s office — Shepard is the first to go on trial. Another defendant, Darwin Herring Sr., is scheduled for trial starting Monday, and additional trials are pending. Jackson is among several defendants who have rendered guilty pleas.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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