By Joe Beck
The last six defendants in a seven-member heroin distribution ring operating out of Frederick County for more than three years entered guilty pleas this week in U.S. District Court.
The defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday to a total of 14 drug-related charges stemming from their involvement in a conspiracy that sold more than 4 pounds of heroin.
"That amount would represent roughly 20,000 dosage units of heroin being put on the streets and pumped into the arms of the citizens of the area," a statement of facts accompanying one of the plea agreements stated.
The same statement of facts describes Raymond Conrad as the leading figure in the conspiracy. Conrad pleaded guilty to three heroin distribution charges plus possessing a gun as an addict or other unlawful user of a drug.
The plea agreement calls for the prosecution to seek a 10-year prison sentence for Conrad.
Court records describe how Conrad and the other defendants sold heroin at sites throughout Winchester and Kernstown from April 2010 through June 2013. The other defendants are identified as Dana James Hardy; Christopher Bruce Haack; Charles Lynwood Kline; Brian Gary Pelczynski; William Russell Carroll and Jennifer Elizabeth Breeden. Breeden pleaded guilty several months ago.
"While Conrad is not the boss or director of this conspiracy, he is the central figure," the statement of facts states. "Conrad is responsible for many persons being introduced to heroin and is responsible for many people stepping up to travel to Baltimore to obtain heroin."
One of Conrad's customers was Allison Manzo-Hatch, whose near-fatal heroin overdose led to Conrad's arrest almost a month later, according to court documents.
Winchester EMTs found Hatch unconscious on a sidewalk on Loudon Street on March 31, 2012, according to the statement of facts. An EMT and emergency room doctor at Winchester Medical Center stated that Hatch would have died from overdosing on heroin without receiving a dose of Narcan, a drug used to combat the effects of heroin and similar drugs.
Hatch told authorities that Conrad sold her about $100 worth of heroin on the day she overdosed.
"She indicated that she had bought heroin from Conrad on about 12 occasions," the court document states.
Hatch agreed to help investigators make controlled purchases of heroin from Conrad and did so on April 19 and April 25, according to the statement of facts.
She ordered another controlled buy of heroin on April 27. When Conrad agreed to meet Hatch again, law enforcement officials organized a traffic stop on Conrad's car, according to court documents.
Conrad was arrested after a drug-sniffing dog reacted to Conrad's car, the statement of facts states.
The court document states that law enforcement officials later recovered a .45 caliber pistol, .38 caliber revolver and a 30-30 rifle after Conrad gave them permission to search his house.
Conrad told investigators he had been using heroin for about two years and selling it for about six months, according to the statement of facts.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org