The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 16, 2007

Judge refuses Gibson bid to be released pending trial

By Joe Pinchot

FARRELL — A federal judge has refused to give a Farrell man charged with drug offenses the opportunity to ask to be let out of jail.

Lamar M. Gibson, 35, of 1143 Hamilton Ave., was indicted July 12 on three counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of crack cocaine and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Aug. 8.

Gibson was arrested Aug. 4 and has been held in the Allegheny County Jail since then.

Gibson, represented by Assistant U.S. Public Defender Jay J. Finkelstein of Pittsburgh, asked for a detention hearing, arguing that he is not a flight risk and has had full employment in the past, sometimes working two jobs.

Gibson played football with the Penn-Ohio Raiders, which showed him to be “a positive role model in the community” and not a risk or danger, Gibson said in a motion he filed Dec. 22.

Gibson said he has job opportunities lined up if he is released, and a family network in Mercer County that gives him a “good support base” and reliable transportation to court dates.

U.S. District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti in Pittsburgh gave no reason for her decision, which was filed Jan. 8.

She also ordered that future motions be filed by his attorney.

Her filing lets stand the Aug. 8 order of detention by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell in Pittsburgh. Mitchell said there is a strong likelihood Gibson will be convicted, and noted that he was not employed when he was arrested and a search turned up large quantities of crack cocaine and money.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Rivetti in Pittsburgh characterized Gibson as a habitual offender with felony drug convictions in 1992, 2000 and 2001. Gibson pleaded guilty last year to possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia and driving under suspension after Sharon police stopped him for a traffic violation Feb. 9 and found him with crack and marijuana.

The federal charges stem from an investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control and Mercer County Drug Task Force. A confidential informant bought crack from Gibson on June 17 and 28 and Aug. 6, all in 2005.

Agents obtained a search warrant of Gibson’s home and raided it on Aug. 6, 2005. Agents seized more than 50 grams — about 1.8 ounces — of crack; $14,000 cash, including some of the money the informant had given Gibson to buy crack; baking soda, which is used in processing powder cocaine into crack; packaging materials; a scale; a security camera; and a police scanner, Rivetti said.