CLEARFIELD — Two women accused of a drug organization that distributed $1.5 million worth of crystal methamphetamine waived their right to preliminary hearings yesterday before Magisterial District Judge James Glass yesterday at Centralized Court held at the Clearfield County Jail.
Sondra McQuillen, 53, of Sanborn Road, Houtzdale, is charged with dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities; knowledge that property is proceeds of illegal act; conspiracy and corrupt organizations — all of which are felonies of the first degree; criminal use of a communication facility — a felony of the third degree and 11 counts of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, — ungraded felonies.
Joyce Merritts, 32, of Park Avenue Extension, Clearfield, is charged with dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities; knowledge that property is proceeds of illegal act; conspiracy and corrupt organizations — all of which are felonies of the first degree; criminal use of a communication facility and endangering the welfare of children — a felonies of the third degree and six counts of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.
Jason Merritts, 37, also of Park Avenue Extension, is facing similar charges, but his preliminary hearing was continued until Oct. 3.
A portion of the the court’s files on the case remain confidential due to the use of confidential informants.
According to a previous article in The Progress, the investigation was developed by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control. The investigators used a confidential informant in September 2017, who made controlled purchases of drugs from Jason and Joyce Merritts.
Following those purchases, investigators identified the local sources, McQuillen and Donald Mullens, and subsequently the source in Ohio, James Thomas, who is alleged to have delivered pound quantities of methamphetamine on multiple occasions.
In July 2018, investigators followed McQuillen on three separate occasions to Ohio where she picked up the drugs. On July 26, investigators conducted a traffic stop and searched her vehicle, seizing six ounces of methamphetamine, two eighth ounces of cocaine and other drugs. The Merritts were arrested the same July day on charges stemming from one of the controlled purchases, pending the issuance of the Grand Jury presentment which recommended multiple, additional charges against them.
Working with the Grand Jury, agents and prosecutors in the Attorney General’s Office brought individuals before the panel who testified and identified McQuillen and Mullins, who died of a drug overdose in May, as the original Clearfield County sources of the drugs. Joint coordination between the Attorney General’s Office, Akron, Ohio, law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration led to James Thomas being charged federally in connection with drug seizures of approximately one pound of methamphetamine, cocaine, firearms and almost $50,000 cash from his home and business.
All three remain incarcerated in lieu of $100,000 monetary bail.
Joyce Merritts was represented by Chris Pentz of the public defender’s office; McQuillen and Jason Merritts are currently unrepresented.