Easton (PA) drug suspect declares innocence, worries about losing public housing
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Donnell Davis wanted to make two things crystal clear during a district court appearance Friday on a cocaine delivery charge.
Even though testimony isn't taken during an preliminary arraignment, Davis, 49, of Easton, said he didn't sell drugs to anyone.
"This is about me going to somebody else's house," he said, before being cautioned that anything he said could be used against him in court.
And he was very concerned about his Easton Housing Authority apartment in Bushkill House at Locust and Bushkill streets in the city, where he was arrested during a drug raid early Friday morning.
"I'm just trying not to lose my place," he told a police investigator during a break in the court proceeding.
"You conspired to sell crack cocaine," the detective said.
"I didn't sell cocaine," Davis said.
Davis has trouble reading -- the court papers were on the table in front of him -- and after District Judge Antonia Grifo read him the charges and the affidavit, he said he still didn't understand. So she again explained it to him.
What he is charged with doing is escorting a cooperating police source from the exterior door of the Bushkill House to Henry Rodriguez Jr.'s fourth-floor apartment in Bushkill House, where Rodriguez sold the person crack cocaine in Davis' presence, court papers say.
The charge was delivery of cocaine -- although court papers describe a conspiracy involving Davis, not a direct sale. Davis, if convicted, faces up to 15 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Police said Davis and Rodriguez were working together to sell drugs.
Davis said he has mental health issues -- he's currently taking medication, but he doesn't have a doctor -- and hasn't worked since 2010. He's been on Social Security disability in recent years, he said, which qualifies him for subsidized housing.
With Grifo back in the courtroom and Davis saying he forgot guilty pleas to crimes in 1991 and 1999 -- he did recall a 2010 conviction in an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon case that got him state prison time -- bail was set at 10 percent of $35,000.
"I have no money for bail," he said.
Which brought him to another realization.
"Basically, I just lost my house," he said of Apartment 103, where he said he has lived alone for the past three years.
Housing Authority Executive Director Gene Pambianchi didn't disagree.
The housing authority actually shared information with Easton police before the raid, he said.
The process to remove Davis and Rodriquez from public housing is beginning as the housing authority "looks at a preponderance of facts," Pambianchi said. The authority doesn't need to wait for an outcome of the court cases, he said.
Within 10 days, the men will receive notices to "surrender the unit(s)," Pambianchi said. While Davis and Rodriguez, 48, aren't senior citizens, they qualify for housing there due to their disabilities, authority rules state.
The rail-thin Rodriguez appeared barely conscious during his arraignment -- head down, eyes shut and occasionally pulled back into the proceedings when the judge raised her voice. He didn't speak about his housing -- or much of anything else.
There will be authority hearings -- Pambianchi wasn't sure if the men would be transported to them from prison -- and the whole thing should be over within 30 days, the executive director said.
While Davis was concerned that his son wouldn't be able to get a TV out of the apartment, Pambianchi said the authority always allows family to remove personal items.
The authority does criminal background checks, Pambianchi said. Davis' most recent arrest was about eight years ago, so it didn't keep him from getting his housing, Pambianchi confirmed.
But once out, Davis won't be able to get back in for another five years due to Friday's arrest, Pambianchi said.
And even if Davis again qualifies, "sometimes it can take years" to get an open spot, Pambianchi said.
"People are desperate to get housing," the executive director added. --73.195.xxx.xxx