N.Y. native found guilty in heroin case

Landare Hines
Landare Hines Mug shot provided

After a two-day trial capped by about an hour and a half of deliberation Tuesday afternoon, a jury found a New York City native guilty on all charges related to heroin being dealt out of a Patton Township home.

Landare Hines, 38, was charged with three counts of felony conspiracy to distribute heroin and a count each of possession with intent to deliver, heroin possession and possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched the residence of his girlfriend, Tiffany Ingram, 34, on March 28, 2014.

Police obtained a search warrant for the residence at Fredericksburg Court after a series of controlled buys in which officers observed the woman who sold the heroin leave from and return to the home after the sales, according to court documents.

According to court documents and testimony of police officers who conducted the search, a black safe was found under a bed in the residence that contained 62 bags of what tested positive for heroin. A smaller amount was discovered elsewhere in the home, and the amount seized had a street value of $7,200 to $10,000.

A shoebox that held $1,630 — $200 of which matched currency used in the controlled buys — was also discovered in a closet in the bedroom. Drug paraphernalia, including a scale, bags and syringes, also were discovered, according to police.

Hines and Ingram were the only people in the residence at the time of the search. Ingram was arrested and charged with similar offenses and pleaded no contest in August to three counts of felony conspiracy and a count of possession with intent to deliver, according to court documents.

Prosecutors argued at the trial that, although Hines and Ingram were partners in the operation, he was the kingpin who handled the money and brought heroin to Centre County from Harrisburg and New York City.

Ingram and Sarah Frank, the woman who sold the drugs to the confidential informants, took the witness stand. Frank, who lived at the home on and off, said she and Hines worked out an arrangement in the weeks before the search in which Hines would sell her a bundle to sell to friends, and she was allowed to keep some for personal use. She always gave the money from those sales to Hines, she said

Hines did not testify during the trial.

Ron McGlaughlin, Hines’ attorney, questioned Ingram and Frank’s testimonies, attacking inconsistencies with what they told police before trial and on the witness stand, and their motives for testifying.

Both women were charged and, although they weren’t promised anything from the commonwealth, McGlaughlin said the cooperation might have been in an effort to help themselves. The conspiracy charges hinged on those testimonies, he said.

“What are you willing to base your verdict on?” McGlaughlin asked the jurors during closing arguments.

McGlaughlin also said Hines’ mere presence at the home on the day of the search did not make him guilty and he questioned the procedure of police after they searched the home. They did not fingerprint the safe and box that held the money, he argued, and that could have changed the case against his client.

Assistant District Attorney Nathan Boob said the physical evidence collected in the search corroborated the women’s stories. The money was found in a closet that had men’s clothing in it and a duffel bag that contained Hines’ birth certificate, Boob said.

He pointed to the “buy” money discovered in the box and used in the controlled sales. A key that fit the safe was found on Hines during the search and the heroin discovered in the home was packaged consistently with the drugs bought in the controlled buys, he said.

“What you need to base your verdict on is all the evidence,” Boob said.

Judge Pamela A. Ruest, who oversaw the trial, also found Hines guilty of a summary marijuana possession charge. She scheduled sentencing for May 21.