The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 26, 2014

Pgh. man pleads guilty to marijuana charge

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Joseph J. Mercurio Jr., 26, got out from under charges of possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal use of a cellular telephone and conspiracy, which prosecutors withdrew in return for his plea.

A second man charged in the case, Lature R. Irvin, 41, of Detroit, formerly of Brookfield, is on the lam. An arrest warrant was issued Jan. 13 after he failed to show up for a pretrial hearing.

State police began their investigation Jan. 6, 2011, when a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent notified them of a package of marijuana discovered at a commercial courier’s warehouse in Ohio.

The package was coming from California and was addressed to 1060 Glenwood Ave., Sharon, police said. Federal agents obtained a search warrant after they determined the package had “characteristics consistent with that of parcels that may contain narcotics,” and a drug-sniffing dog alerted to the package, police said.

Federal agents opened the package and found about 2 pounds of pot in it, police said.

State police were brought in to plan delivering the package to Glenwood, and obtained an anticipatory search warrant of the house, should the package be accepted.

Mercurio received the package at the house, and agents moved in, police said.

Mercurio was arrested, and the search turned up another 6 ounces of pot, as well as drug packaging paraphernalia.

Mercurio told police the package was intended for him, although he identified Irvin as the owner, police said.

Police had Mercurio contact Irvin and tell him the package had arrived and was sitting on the front step, police said. Irvin picked up the package and was arrested by agents, police said.

Irvin acknowledged putting Mercurio in contact with the marijuana supplier and arranging for the shipment from the supplier, police said.

Charges were filed July 24, 2012.