Driver with pot, cash in ve­hi­cle draws jail

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @mont­co­court­news on Twit­ter

NORRISTOWN >> The next stop is jail for a Lower Prov­i­dence man who fled from state po­lice dur­ing a traf­fic stop on Route 422 and was ul­ti­mately found to be in pos­ses­sion of sev­eral pounds of mar­i­juana and more than $44,000 in cash.

Ni­cholas James Gaasche, 20, of the first block of Brim­field Road, was sen­tenced in Mont­gomery County Court to three to 12 months in the county jail af­ter he pleaded guilty to charges of pos­ses­sion with in­tent to de­liver mar­i­juana and flee­ing or eluding po­lice in con­nec­tion with a Fe­bru­ary 2018 in­ci­dent that be­gan dur­ing a traf­fic stop on Route 422.

Judge Wendy G. Roth­stein, who ac­cepted a plea agree­ment in the mat­ter, also or­dered Gaasche to com­plete three years’ pro­ba­tion fol­low­ing pa­role, mean­ing Gaasche will be un­der court su­per­vi­sion for four years.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan about 12:57 a.m. Feb. 22, when state po­lice at Skip­pack, who were pa­trolling the west­bound lanes of Route 422 near the Col­legeville off ramp, ob­served a Toy­ota Land Cruiser SUV cross­ing the white fog line be­fore swerv­ing back into its lane of travel and also driv­ing on the white fog line sev­eral times. Troop­ers ac­ti­vated emer­gency lights and siren and con­ducted a

traf­fic stop of the ve­hi­cle along Route 422 in Up­per Prov­i­dence.

When po­lice asked Gaasche, the lone oc­cu­pant of the ve­hi­cle, for his regis­tra­tion and in­sur­ance cards he was un­able to ob­tain ei­ther doc­u­ment and he “made lit­tle to no eye con­tact and ap­peared very ner­vous,” state po­lice Trooper Ja­son Hen­ley al­leged in the ar­rest af­fi­davit.

“Gaasche was asked where he was headed tonight to which he stated his friend’s house,” Hen­ley wrote, adding po­lice no­ticed nu­mer­ous items in­side the ve­hi­cle, in­clud­ing a black bag lo­cated be­hind the driver arm rest and a large bin in the rear seat. “Gaasche was asked about the items, but re­luc­tantly gave me a one-word an­swer.

“Gaasche then put the ve­hi­cle in drive and fled the scene of the traf­fic stop,” Hen­ley al­leged.

Po­lice said Gaasche ul­ti­mately trav­eled onto north­bound Route 29 at a high rate of speed, ig­nor­ing red traf­fic sig­nals and trav­el­ing into the on­com­ing lane of travel. Po­lice al­leged Gaasche’s ve­hi­cle reached speeds of 85 mph dur­ing the pur­suit.

Near the in­ter­sec­tion of Main Street and Route 29 in Col­legeville, two north­bound ve­hi­cles “needed to abruptly move to the right to avoid be­ing struck by Gaasche’s ve­hi­cle,” Hen­ley al­leged.

Gaasche’s ve­hi­cle trav­eled left onto Main Street at a high rate of speed, nearly strik­ing a curb, be­fore slow­ing con­sid­er­ably on Main Street just east of East Third Street, po­lice al­leged.

“At that time, Gaasche ex­ited the driver side door, hold­ing a gray and red bag,” Hen­ley al­leged, adding Gaasche never placed his ve­hi­cle in park and it even­tu­ally rolled back into the pa­trol car. “Gaasche took off on foot, ig­nor­ing mul­ti­ple com­mands to stop. Gaasche jumped a small chain link fence at which time he lost the gray and red bag.”

Po­lice pur­sued Gaasche as he ran through three park­ing lots, a thick wooded tree line and even­tu­ally to­ward Route 29, po­lice said. Gaasche was not lo­cated that evening.

Po­lice re­cov­ered the gray and red bag that Gaasche dropped dur­ing the pur­suit and de­ter­mined it con­tacted six vac­u­umed-sealed, one pound bags of mar­i­juana, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint. When po­lice searched Gaasche’s ve­hi­cle they found an open vac­uum-sealed bag of mar­i­juana and $44,335 cash in­side the black bag that was in the ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit.

“The bag that was cut open was the same as the bags that were lo­cated in the bag dropped by Gaasche dur­ing the foot pur­suit,” Hen­ley al­leged.

Po­lice also re­cov­ered a dig­i­tal scale from the black bag that was seized from the in­side of the ve­hi­cle as well as glass mar­i­juana smok­ing de­vices and pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

Court doc­u­ments did not in­di­cate when Gaasche was taken into cus­tody by po­lice.

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