Search warrant heard in court against alleged drug dealer
An alleged city drug dealer from Philadelphia was denied a motion Wednesday to suppress evidence based on a search warrant he said was “recklessly” obtained. The defendant then moved to represent himself at his trial, slated for today.
James D. Choice III, 45, has been incarcerated since July 2018 on five felony charges related to alleged drug dealing and owning firearms at 681 Wildwood Blvd. He was a state parolee at the time, which the district magistrate took into account in setting a $500,000 bail.
About 28.6 grams of methamphetamine, 20 grams of cocaine, 20 strips of suboxone and scales were allegedly found in executing the search warrant at Choice’s residence in July 2018.
An informant who police suspected bought drugs from Choice at the Wildwood address was stopped by an officer. Crack cocaine was discovered on his person and he was taken to City Hall to be investigated.
“I had been high for about four or five days,” said the informant. “I told him I got (the crack cocaine) from High Street from some white, gay guy.”
The informant later changed his story, saying he bought the drugs from Choice, signing a written statement.
Recently, however, the informant told investigators that he was lying.
“I went to (Choice’s) house as a pit stop,” he said. “As a drug addict, I just wanted to go home and get high.”
“(The officer) was forcing my hand,” he added.
Though much of what the informant remembered had been eclipsed by a “daily” drug use, the informant said he was sure the officer pressured him into admitting to buying the cocaine from Choice and that he had lied at the time.
“That was an easy way to get out and do crack cocaine,” he said.
Judge Marc F. Lovecchio said he found the informant’s testimony to have no credibility.
“The court considers the informant’s testimony to be internally inconsistent — he was evasive and was contradicted by what he said and other evidence,” said Lovecchio. “The court therefore finds there to be no basis to suppress evidence.”
In reaction, Choice, who has a long history of writing to the courthouse and attempting to make motions, said he found his lawyer to be ineffective.
“Explain to me why my lawyer is sabotaging my case,” he said in one such letter, calling officials “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
The lawyers Choice has gotten are part of a conspiracy, he claims.
“I’d rather do my best,” than rely on current counsel, said Choice.
A criminal jury trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. before Lovecchio.