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Judge Caulfield Handles Case Involving Crack Cocaine

District Judge also handles DUI and assault cases in his Forest Hills courtroom.

Howard James Morrison, 38 of North Braddock was held for court on charges of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver and intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered after a hearing Dec. 12 before District Judge Thomas Caulfield in Forest Hills.

A car traveling on Woodstock Avenue at Woodstock Terrace proceeded through a clearly posted stop sign. After a traffic stop, a Swisssvale officer noticed the front seat passenger, Morrison, sitting with his hands in his pockets. A narcotics officer noticed a suspicious bulge under his shirt near the waistband of his trousers and believed Morrison might be carrying a weapon.

According to a criminal complaint, Morrison appeared to be under the influence of marijuana, was staggering, had bloodshot eyes and had to have questions repeated several times. On his person, Morrison had a cell phone and $607 cash that was scattered throughout his pockets. Also, in his front jeans pocket was an off-white substance believed to be crack cocaine.

Other passengers in the car were searched with negative results. The rear seat passenger did have several hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash. A search of the vehicle produced a large amount of an off-white powder believed to be crack cocaine in a baggie between the console and front passenger's seat.

Morrison was transported to Allegheny County Jail. Bail was set at 10 percent of $2,000, which Morrison posted.

In other cases heard by Caulfiled on Dec. 12:

  • Erin E. Hilling, 25, of Wilkins Township waived her right to a preliminary hearing on charges of careless driving and driving under the influence of a controlled substance or metabolite, first offense. A charge of driving under the influence (general impairment/incapable of driving safely, first offense) was withdrawn. Hilling was involved in a crash with entrapment near the intersection of Dorothy Street and Greensburg Pike on Sept. 21 after hitting a parked car. Both cars sustained severe disabling damage. Police said her car had first hit a boat parked on top of a trailer on Greensburg Pike in Chalfant. Hilling suffered an injury to her eye, mouth and also had chest pains. Police found some prescription drugs in the car. Hilling did not remember the crash. Woodland Hills EMS transported her to UPMC Mercy for treatment and a blood test.
  • Vernon J. Vareen, 36, of Wilkinsburg was held for court on a charge of simple assault and two counts of aggrevated assault filed by Swissvale police for an incident in Swissvale on Oct. 31. An Ellesmere Street resident told police he was at a barber shop on Washington Street when he was approached by his child's mother's current boyfriend, Vareen. The two began to argue over an ongoing custody battle. The victim told police he backed away but claimed Vareen grabbed him by the coat and repeatedly cut him on the face by what he believed to be a straight razor. He was transported to UPMC Mercy for treatment of three facial lacerations. Police arrested Vareen later.
  • Jason Ingram, 26, of the Arlington neighborhood in Pittsburgh, waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of simple assault, harassment-subject other to physical contact and criminal mischief/damage property filed by Swissvale police after an incident Feb. 27 in the 2600 block of Dalgate Road.
  • Tina Pierce, 52, of North Braddock was held for court on charges of driving under the influence (general impairment/incapable of driving safely, first offense), driving under the influence (high rate of alcohol, .10 to .16 percent, first offense), driving without a license, driving the wrong way and disregarding traffic lane. A Forest Hills police officer on patrol Nov. 3 observed a maroon Chevrolet Lumina driving in the slow lane on Ardmore Boulevard near Newport Road. The vehicle came to a complete stop for a steady green light as it approached Bevington Road and was driving erratically. After making a traffic stop, the officer detected a strong odor of alcohol on Pierce, who was the driver. The officer noted she had bloodshot and glassy eyes and slurred, mumbled speech. Pierce failed field sobriety tests. A blood alcohol test showed a level of .138 percent. The legal limit is .08 percent. Charges were filed by Forest Hills police via summons. 

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