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Five Defendants in Upper Bucks Heroin Ring Plead Guilty

October 12, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David A. Keightly Jr., 215.348.6342, dakeightly@buckscounty.org

Chad Knechel Melody Clugh Lauren Bihl
        Chad Knechel                    Melody Clugh                Lauren Bihl

Ryan Mokrynchuk Jillian Betts

   Ryan Mokrynchuk                Jillian Betts

Two men and three women pleaded guilty this morning to their roles in what prosecutors contend was a large heroin-trafficking organization that operated for three years in Upper Bucks County. 

The guilty pleas came after Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. set a December 4 trial date for eight additional defendants in the case. Among those awaiting trial are the alleged leaders of the drug enterprise, which prosecutors say did almost $1 million in annual business.

Bateman said he would schedule the five to be sentenced in about 60 days.

The 13 defendants were charged in March after a nine-month investigation by a Bucks County grand jury. The investigation culminated in a 195-page presentment describing a crime organization whose activities greatly exacerbated the opioid crisis afflicting Bucks County residents.

From late 2013 through late 2016, the presentment said, the organization sold as many as 400 bundles of heroin per week in the Quakertown area, with each bundle containing 10 to 14 individual bags of the drug. 

Entering pleas today were:

  • Chad E. Knechel, 46, of Richlandtown, who pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver heroin and conspiracy; 
  • Melody A. Clugh, 23, of Allentown, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in a corrupt organzation;
  • Lauren E. Bihl, 26, no fixed abode, who pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver heroin, conspiracy, and recklessly endangering another person;
  • Ryan E. Mokrynchuk, 24, of Quakertown, who pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver heroin and conspiracy; and
  • Jillian R. Betts, 25, no fixed abode, who pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver heroin, conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person.

The eight awaiting trial include brothers Sheamus P. McCarthy, 27; and Casey J. McCarthy, 22, both of Quakertown, whom the presentment identified as the leaders of the heroin ring. The presentment described Sheamus McCarthy as the “mastermind of the organization,” and Casey McCarthy as the chief courier who traveled frequently to Philadelphia to purchase heroin, which he brought to Bucks County for his dealers to sell to users.

The organization’s supplier, according to the presentment, was Antoine H. Harris, 29, of Philadelphia, who allegedly fled after the charges were filed and was captured two months ago in North Carolina by U.S. Marshals.

The grand jury concluded that the drug organization’s crimes “led to widespread addiction amongst young citizens of the Quakertown area,” caused numerous overdoses and endangered many lives, all while reaping vast financial profits. At least two people who were customers of the organization died of overdoses, the presentment said.

The case was investigated primarily by the Quakertown Borough Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives, and is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney David A. Keightly Jr. and Assistant District Attorney Jovin Jose.

Approved for release by Thomas C. Gannon, Deputy District Attorney.  

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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