Barbershop heroin dealer faces jail time
WEST CHESTER >> A Chester County prosecutor asked the Common Pleas judge sentencing an ex-convict who ran a bustling heroin trafficking operation out of his Coatesville barbershop to impose a long term in state prison on the man for having “ravaged” the community with large quantities of the deadly drug.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Pierce, of the DA’s Drug Unit, told President Judge Jacqueline Cody that Anthony “Leem” Skelton was a large enough dealer to able to deliver hundreds of bags of heroin to customers “at a moment’s notice”
from his shop at the corner of Charles and Strode avenues in the city.
With a criminal record of violence and drug offenses dating back to the 1980s, the 52-year-old Skelton ran his operation like a chief executive
officer, overseeing other dealers from the barbershop as well as serving his own customers, Pierce said in asking Cody to hand down a sentence of 16 to 42 years behind bars.
“He profited off of other people’s addictions, selling the heroin that is ravaging our community,” said Pierce at Skelton’s sentencing hearing Thursday. “His
only concern was making money off of them. Ultimately, he ‘owned’ the corner and ran that corner as the CEO of a heroin business.”
Cody, after hearing Skelton’s attorney, David Clark of West Chester; his wife; and Skelton himself asked for leniency because of his otherwise kind and caring nature, sentenced Skelton
to 10 years, nine months to 27 ½ years in state prison. He had pleaded guilty to four counts of possession with intent to deliver heroin and one count of persons not to possess firearms in March.
“I can’t understand how someone like yourself, who recognizes the harm of drugs … could sell to anyone who came by” the Premier
Images barbershop he owned, Cody said. “You don’t seem like someone who would want to hurt anyone, but you knowingly gave people the heroin that would ruin their lives.
“The public needs to be protected from your actions, handing out poison,” Cody told Skelton.
Skelton, who was on state parole for a robbery when he was arrested, sold heroin to confidential informants on three occasions in late 2014 and early 2015, Pierce said. He was arrested by city police on March 31, 2015, and police found heroin in his pants and $1,100 in the car. When his house was searched later that day, police found two loaded handguns — weapons that Skelton as a convicted felon was not allowed to own.
Pierce said that police also found quantities of Fentanyl, a dangerous narcotic that is sometimes used as a cutting agent with heroin in the house. Fentanyl has been linked to a deadly epidemic of fatal overdoses across the country in recent years, and played a role in several fatal drug overdoses in Chester County.
In 2003 he was sentenced to 90 months to 15 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony charge of robbery including the infliction of serious bodily injury. Skelton has other arrests in Philadelphia dating back to the late 1980s and mid 1990s, according to court records.
Clark, in asking Cody to consider a lenient sentence for his client, noted that he had cooperated with police since the moment of his arrest, and had pleaded guilty without taking his case to trial. Although he sold heroin, he was also an addict himself, the attorney said.
In comments after the sentencing, Pierce said he was pleased with Cody’s sentence.
“The defendant was a significant trafficker of heroin with a hefty criminal history,” he said. “Judge Cody’s sentence fairly balanced his acceptance of responsibility with the damage the defendant caused to the city of Coatesville by continuously and openly peddling poison in his own community.”
Anthony “Leem” Skelton