Driver with pot, cash in vehicle draws jail
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.