Bar­ber­shop heroin dealer faces jail time

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

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

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