Thursday, August 3, 2000
Officers describe drug bust
By Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau
MARGARETVILLE Two men who were in the company of alleged cocaine-dealers targeted in Delaware County Drug Enforcement Unit's sweeping drug busts appeared in Middletown Town Court for felony hearings Wednesday.
Tyrone Austin, 31, of Troy, was charged with felony counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested Monday during a drug transaction arranged by the police.
John J. McCabe, 63, of Arkville, was charged with felony counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested Tuesday when police went to the trailer he shares with his sister, Mary P. Grasey, to arrest her for dealing cocaine.
Delaware County District Attorney Richard Northrup said Austin and McCabe "just happened to be there" when arrests for dealing cocaine were made, but they were not part of the planned drug bust in which 11 sealed indictments were handed up Monday by a Delaware County grand jury.
Delaware County Undersheriff Doug Vredenburgh testified about events that led up to Austin's arrest.
On July 31, Vredenburgh said, he received a phone call from a confidential informant who told him that Nancy "Sunny" Dixon, 44, of Arkville, was en route to the Margaretville area from Albany. Dixon told the informant that she had crack cocaine to sell and she added that a black male was the source of the cocaine and he might be with her. Vredenburgh told the informant to set up a buy for $100 worth of cocaine.
Vredenburgh said he provided the informant with two marked $50 bills and went to the Hess Mart on state Route 28, where the transaction was to take place.
Delaware County officers, including Lt. Charles Newman, Deputy Gary Arndt and Investigator Jeffrey Bowie, were stationed at or near the Hess Mart to watch the buy and arrest Dixon after the transaction.
At about 6 p.m., Dixon and Austin, who is black, arrived in a blue car, with Dixon driving. The informant bought the cocaine and the car left the parking lot. Newman, Arndt and Bowie followed the car Dixon was driving.
Vredenburgh said he remained at the Hess Mart, where the informant was scheduled to make a second cocaine purchase from Cheryl A. Scarth, 42, of Arkville.
Dixon drove to the NBT parking lot in Margaretville. She parked and left the vehicle briefly. Austin remained in the car, according to Bowie. When Dixon returned, the three officers took the suspects into custody and located the two $50 bills stashed under the upholstery of the passenger seat of the car, where Austin had been seated.
Bowie said the car was registered to Austin's wife. He added that Dixon said she had a fire in her car on the Thruway when she was coming back to Arkville from Albany, so she called Austin, who gave her a ride.
Newman testified that the substance in the packet that Dixon sold to the informant tested positive for cocaine.
Michael Sheehan, a lawyer who represented Austin, argued that there was no proof that Austin was the black male who supplied the cocaine.
Middletown Justice Glen George sent Austin's case to the grand jury.
"The court finds reason and cause to believe that a felony has been committed and that it was committed by Tyrone Austin," George said. Austin was returned to jail on $75,000 bail.
After Austin's hearing, Vredenburgh said the arrest warrants, based on the grand jury sealed indictments, for Dixon and Scarth, did not include the felony charges filed against the women for the Monday evening drug sales.
After purchasing cocaine from Dixon, the informant turned the drug over to Vredenburgh and then left the Hess Mart. Vredenburgh said he used the pay phone at the convenience store to call the Delaware County Sheriff's Department and ask them to send a marked police car to pick up Dixon and Austin. As he was talking on the phone, Scarth approached and wanted to use the phone.
Vredenburgh said he stood and listened while Scarth called the informant and told her to come to the Hess Mart. Vredenburgh called the sheriff's department again and pretended to carry on a phone conversation while he watched the second sale take place.
Vredenburgh arrested Scarth, but a man driving the vehicle she arrived in took off when he realized what was happening. After being arrested Monday, Scarth and Dixon were sent to jail on $100,000 bail, deputies said.
In court on Wednesday, McCabe's felony hearing began with Bowie testifying about arriving at a trailer located in the Arkville Trailer Park at about 8 a.m. Tuesday to arrest Mary "Grandma" Grasey on a warrant issued by Delaware County Judge Robert Estes."She opened the door and said, 'I know what you are here for, the stuff is in the bedroom,'" Bowie said.
Bowie said McCabe, who was in the kitchen, told him he lives with Grasey, who is his sister.
Sgt. Thomas Avery of the Delaware County Sheriff's Department was with Bowie when the arrest and search warrants were served. Avery said McCabe indicated his name was Jackie, he had lived in the trailer for eight years and works at the Inn-Between Restaurant.
Avery and Bowie both said drugs and drug paraphernalia, including scales, sifters and pipes were found in the trailer but not in McCabe's room. However, two plastic food containers, filled with rice and packets of cocaine, were located in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.
Sheehan, who was able to represent both Austin and McCabe because their cases are not related, argued that McCabe did not own or have control of the drugs in the house.
Sheehan asked the judge to allow time for him to submit examples of case law proving that McCabe is not guilty just because he lives in the same residence.
Northrup asked for an opportunity to submit a memorandum of law to prove the presence of drugs in the shared living space makes McCabe legally responsible.
George said the additional information must be submitted to the court by 3 p.m. today and said he would make a decision no later than 4 p.m. Aug. 11 about sending the case to a grand jury.
McCabe was returned to jail on $75,000 bail.