15 Charged In Large-Scale Drug Distribution Ring Based In Carroltown
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - Thirteen residents of Pennsylvania and two residents of Ohio have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Johnstown on charges of violating various federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
The ten-count indictment, returned on July 12, 2011, named as defendants the following individuals:
- George M. Lowmaster, 41, of Carrolltown, Pa.;
- Gerald G. Lowmaster, 64, of Carrolltown, Pa.;
- Marguerite G. Lowmaster, 64, of Carrolltown, Pa.;
- Judy A. Bender, 48, of Carrolltown, Pa.;
- Matthew C. Bopp, 50, of Carrolltown, Pa.;
- Bonnie L. Chapman, 61, of Hanoverton, Ohio;
- Cory L. Giles, 32, of Shippensburg, Pa.;
- Timothy S. Golby, 44, of Northern Cambria, Pa.;
- Thomas Holko, 28, of Johnstown, Pa.;
- Kelley S. Johns, 41, of Hubbard, Ohio;
- Gerald F. Knee, 60, of Elmora, Pa.;
- Robert J. Paterno, 38, of Northern Cambria, Pa.;
- Paul X. Strittmatter, 29, of Elmora, Pa,;
- Donald J. Weakland, Jr., 55, of Hastings, Pa.; and
- Lori A. Weaver, 40, of Elmora, Pa.
According to the indictment presented to the court, from March 2009 to May 9, 2011, the three Lowmasters, Chapman, Giles and Strittmatter conspired to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. From July 2008 to May 9, 2011, George Lowmaster, Holko and Strittmatter conspired to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. From Sept. 30, 2010, to May 9, 2011, George Lowmaster, Bender, Knee, Strittmatter and Weakland conspired to manufacture and distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants. From March 2008 to May 9, 2011, George and Gerald Lowmaster, Golby and Paterno conspired to commit money laundering. From July 2008 to May 9, 2011, George Lowmaster, Bopp, Johns and Weaver conspired to distribute quantities of oxycodone and methadone.
In addition, on July 23, 2008, Aug. 21, 2010, Sept. 30, 2010, and Oct. 23, 2010, George Lowmaster distributed less than 500 grams of cocaine on each date, and on Oct. 17, 2009, he distributed less than 50 kilograms of marijuana.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of life in prison, a fine of $30,750,00, or both, for George Lowmaster; 60 years in prison, a fine of $5,500,000, or both, for Gerald Lowmaster; 40 years in prison, a fine of $5,000,000, or both, for Marguerite Lowmaster, Chapman and Giles; life in prison, a fine of $10,000,000, or both, for Bender, Holko, Knee and Weakland; 20 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both, for Bopp, Johns and Weaver; 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both, for Golby and Paterno; and life in prison, a fine of $25,000,000, or both, for Strittmatter. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense(s) and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney John J. Valkovci, Jr., is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
A joint task force, headed by the Laurel Highlands Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of these defendants. Other agencies participating on the task force include the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Pennsylvania State Police; the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office; the Cambria County District Attorney's Office; the Carrolltown Police Department; the Patton Police Department; the Ebensburg Police Department; the Portage Police Department and the Paint Township Police Department.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.