NEW CUMBERLAND - Suspects in a series of felony drug cases originating in Chester pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday.
Four of six suspects appeared before 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Martin J. Gaughan, who continued their bonds and ordered them to return on May 12.
The four men and two women were indicted by the Hancock County grand jury earlier this month on charges stemming from a drug investigation by the Hancock-Brooke-Weirton Drug Task Force last fall. They are accused of, among other things, delivering drugs (cocaine and heroin) within 1,000 feet of Allison Elementary School.
Edward J. Bailey Jr., 29, and Nancy Humphreys, 55, both of East Liverpool, and Zachary K. Humphreys, 20, of Salem, were arrested April 10 on charges of delivery of a controlled substance (cocaine) within 1,000 feet of a school, conspiracy to deliver cocaine, and transporting a controlled substance into the state.
Mary E. Lombardozzi, 39, and Joseph M. Blake, 22, both of Wellsville, were arrested the same day on charges of delivery of a controlled substance (heroin) within 1,000 feet of a school, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, and child abuse with risk of injury.
Nancy Humphreys is free after posting bond, while Bailey, Lombardozzi and Zachary Humphreys remain incarcerated in the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville. Blake did not make an appearance on Wednesday.
A sixth suspect, Abraham Thomas, 32, of Oberlin, Ohio, who is wanted for delivery of a controlled substance (heroin) within 1,000 feet of a school, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, and child abuse with risk of injury, remains at large.
The five who were arrested April 10 were initially taken to Columbiana County Jail and later waived extradition to West Virginia.
Gaughan appointed public defenders for Bailey, Lombardozzi and Zachary Humphreys and ordered they submit a report to be considered for pre-trial release. He continued the bonds of Bailey and Humphreys ($25,000 each) and reduced Lombardozzi's bond to $10,000 surety.
Bailey, Nancy Humphreys and Zachary Humphreys are considered co-defendants in a case dating back to September and October 2013. The indictment alleges that Nancy Humphreys drove Bailey on Oct. 11 and Zachary Humphreys on Oct. 25 - both times for the purpose of delivering cocaine to a confidential informant in Chester.
Thomas, Lombardozzi and Blake are considered co-defendants in a case dating back to October, November and December 2013. The indictment alleges that Blake drove Thomas to Chester on Dec. 6 for the purpose of delivering heroin to a confidential informant.
The child abuse charges against Blake and Thomas allege they had a child with them "during the transport and delivery of heroin."
Also Wednesday, Gaughan reduced the bond for Jonathon D. Graham, 22, of New Cumberland, charged with first-degree arson, from $100,000 to $25,000 surety, with house arrest.
Graham was indicted by the grand jury for allegedly setting fire to a cabin owned by attorney M. Eric Frankovitch on Oct. 9, 2013. The cabin was totally destroyed. Graham originally was charged in Hancock County Magistrate Court.
Gaughan also accepted a not guilty plea from Douglas E. Wells, 41, of Newell, who was indicted on a charge of soliciting a minor via computer. Wells is accused of soliciting sex from a 15-year-old girl he had befriended on Facebook.
(Huba can be contacted at email@example.com)