New Castle News

February 28, 2013

Police arrest accused North Hill heroin dealer

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — An alleged heroin dealer was arrested Wednesday following repeated complaints to the police from his North Hill neighbors.

New Castle and Lawrence County narcotics officers, serving a sealed search warrant, broke in the door of a house at 139 E. Leasure Ave. around 7 a.m. and arrested Matthew Clavelli, 28, who has addresses listed there and on Northview Avenue.

This was the second visit the narcotics team had paid to the house in the past two months.

Clavelli’s father, Joseph R. Clavelli, is the owner of the house and lives there, according to county assessment records.

Police said a 2-year-old boy and a pit bull were in the house where they found more than 6 grams of heroin, including a 4.6-gram chunk of pure heroin, and some that had been cut with other substances for sale, according to Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa.

One ounce is equal to 28.35 grams.

Police said two other people were in the residence with Matthew Clavelli and the toddler.

In court documents, officers described the living conditions in the house as deplorable and noted raccoon feces were exposed in the living room fireplace. The odor was so bad that several of the officers had to disrupt the search to go outside for fresh air, according to the document.

Lamancusa said the heroin was hidden in multiple locations throughout the house.

Items confiscated included the 4.6-gram chunk, a second bag of suspected heroin weighing 1.6 grams that was in a dresser drawer, a cigarette box containing a small amount of suspected pure heroin, two methadone bottles, an owe sheet, a stamp bag of about 0.3 grams of suspected heroin packaged for sale, a folded lottery ticket packaged with heroin as a makeshift stamp bag, drug paraphernalia of various types and $241.

New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem explained a stamp bag, used to package cut heroin for sale, typically contains about 0.3 gram.

“We’ve been getting a lot of complaints for awhile now about that house,” Salem said. “They’ve had a lot of heavy traffic in and out and were disturbing the neighborhood a lot.”

Lamancusa said many complaint calls were received by the city police and on the drug task force hotline.

Salem said Matthew Clavelli signed a written statement admitting the drugs were his.

The police had conducted a search at the same house Jan. 9, when they went there to arrest Michael P. Roberts, 33, of that address, who was wanted on multiple warrants.

Police said Roberts is the father of the toddler who was in the house Wednesday. During the Jan 9 visit, police confiscated Xanax tablets and other items and Roberts told them that he had chewed up eight or nine roxycodone tablets and was ingesting about 20 30-milligram roxycodone tablets per day, the document states. He told police he was selling drugs to support his drug habit, and that he was taking about a gram of heroin every morning when he woke up, the report said.

Wednesday’s detail was conducted by the district attorney’s drug task force and the New Castle police narcotics officers, special operations team and K-9 officers. Neshannock and Union Township police also participated.

Matthew Clavelli was charged Wednesday with possession with intent to deliver, conspiracy for possession with intent to deliver, endangering the welfare of a child, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Clavelli was arraigned by District Judge Melissa A. Amodie and lodged in the Lawrence County jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.