A Bradford man arrested with more than 100 grams of cocaine last year was sentenced Friday in McKean County Court to 9 ½ to 19 years in state prison.
James Howard Fowler, 58, formerly of 103 W. Corydon St., was arrested by the McKean County Drug Task Force.
“This conviction was the result of the investigation by the McKean County Drug Task Force and their testimony over a two-day trial on June 6 and June 7,” said District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburg Shaffer. “The officers confiscated more than 100 grams of cocaine — an amount greater than what is typically confiscated in a single case in our county — as well as a scale, packaging material and a ledger.
“The incarceration of the defendant for this period of time should serve not only as punishment to him and provide rehabilitation options, but as a deterrence to others,” she added.
“In prosecuting this case, I was shocked at the amount of cocaine the officers confiscated and, during the trial, the officer showed the jury the drugs seized as well as the packaging material, which was educational to me and, I assume, the members of the jury,” Shaffer said.
“More frequently we talk about heroin and fentanyl but cocaine delivery is a crime that we will prosecute vigorously. The amount of cocaine in this case was not an amount that would be considered ‘or personal use’ as that term is understood in the law,” she added. “Because this amount and the packaging material was consistent with drug delivery, rather than personal use, the sentence of Mr. Fowler is appropriate.”
Bradford City officials expressed their appreciation of the lengthy incarceration for Fowler as well.
“I was very pleased with the sentence of Mr. Fowler,” said Bradford City Police Chief Chris Lucco. “He had been suspected for some time and it was nice to see the court recognize the gravity of his crimes. The officers of the McKean County Drug Task Force deserve a pat on the back.
“They had a good, solid case and the system worked,” he added.
Bradford City Mayor Tom Riel said, “That’s a very nice sentence. I hope to see more just like it in the future. This shows that the Bradford City Police and the Task Force and the District Attorney’s office have been aggressive to get this filth where it belongs.
“With $11,000 worth of cocaine, it’s obvious it wasn’t for personal use,” Riel added. “We don’t need people like him on the streets, not with the way he was peddling it.”
According to court records at the time of his arrest, on March 25, 2015, a confidential informant of the task force purchased one gram of cocaine from Fowler at Fowler’s residence, arranging the deal via cellphone.
The same informant later purchased 15 grams of cocaine from Fowler at his residence. After the purchase, Fowler and the informant left his residence in the informant’s vehicle, which was subsequently stopped by police. Fowler was taken into custody and was found to be in possession of 8 grams of cocaine and one marijuana cigarette, the court records read.
A search warrant was obtained for Fowler’s residence, where police found drugs and paraphernalia, court records read.
Shaffer added her kudos to the officers of the task force for the hard work that went into this case, and to the work they do each day. The task force is comprised of the county detectives and officers from Bradford City, Bradford Township, Smethport, Port Allegany, Foster Township and University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Shaffer said.
“I would like to recognize the officers of the McKean County Drug Task Force for their continued efforts in drug investigations and, ultimately, my prosecutions,” Shaffer said. “The expertise of the officers is a valuable resource to the community but it often goes unrecognized. Because of their efforts, I was able to obtain the conviction of this defendant.”