New Castle News

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September 20, 2013

Five remain jailed following raid of suspected meth lab

NEW CASTLE — New Castle police discovered a suspected methamphetamine lab Wednesday while answering a loitering call at a housing project.

Five people were arrested inside a Brinton Hill apartment at 809 McGrath Ave.

Brinton Hill is a Lawrence County Housing Authority complex on the city’s East Side.

City police and fire departments evacuated about 10 apartments in the complex for safety reasons and established a perimeter around the area. The residents were kept out of their homes for a couple of hours.

Arrested were Adam Brett Jacobs, 21, of 4106 Hollow Road; Jeffrey A. Shelpman, 25, of Apt. 615, 814 W. Washington St.; Richard Baynes, 20, of Laughlin, Nev.; Victoria Grace Pappas-Pappakostas, 21, of Apt. 309, 3315 Cloverlane Drive; and a 17-year-old girl.

Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa said the suspects had been cooking methamphetamine by the one-pot method, which is the most dangerous type of meth lab. He added the components all can be purchased from hardware and drug stores.

New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem said officers had received information about a possible meth lab at Brinton Hill.

The department received a call around 2:40 p.m. Wednesday that a lot of trespassers were there, he said. Officers found the five suspects in one apartment. They said Pappas-Pappakostas is on the Housing Authority’s no-trespassing list.

When the officers arrived, they noticed a distinct odor, Lamancusa said.

Police said as officers arrested Pappas-Pappakostas, she reached for a backpack but was ordered to leave it. Once the occupants were removed, police searched the apartment with drug dogs and one hit on the backpack. They found several bottles of unknown liquids, which police believed were those used in making meth.

Salem said the police stopped at that point.

According to one narcotics officer, no actual cooking was going on, but there were chemicals and odors indicating it had occurred.

Police obtained a search warrant and officers from the city and the district attorney’s office who are trained in meth lab response were summoned, according to Salem. They entered the apartment around 8 p.m. wearing protective jumpsuits and respirator masks.

Items found included lithium batteries, tin foil, suspected lye, various bottles with unknown substances, syringes, a bottle with post-cook residue and various packages of cold relief medicine.

Those arrested told police they do not live in the apartment.

Gene DeGennaro, housing authority executive director, said the tenant under lease no longer was living there, and the authority was in the process of taking possession of the unit in court Wednesday.

Pappas-Pappakostas, Baynes, Shelpman and Jacobs are charged with two counts of operating a methamphetamine lab and one count each of criminal conspiracy to operate a meth lab; illegal depositing, storing or disposing of chemical waste; manufacture of methamphetamine with a child present; possession of liquefied ammonia with intent to manufacture controlled substances; possession of red phosphorus with intent to manufacture controlled substances; manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver; corruption of minors; endangering the welfare of children; possession of a controlled substance; and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

They were arraigned Thursday morning by District Judge Melissa A. Amodie, who set bond at $50,000 each. They remain in the Lawrence County jail.

The teen is to be charged by juvenile petition.

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