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Man Waives Preliminary Hearing on Drug-Related Charges

District Judge Thomas Caulfield handles a variety of cases in his Forest Hills courtroom last week.

Charles G. Knudsen, 27, of Bridgeville waived his right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge Thomas Caulfield on two counts of intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered, use/possession of drug paraphernalia, careless driving and driving under the influence of a controlled substance or metabolite (first offense).

Forest Hills police filed the charges after an officer observed Knudsen driving erratically with no headlights on in the 2100 block of Ardmore Boulevard on Aug. 19. After stopping the car, the officer noticed Knudsen and his three passengers making furtive movements, and then he observed that Knudsen had a leafy green substance on his lap, on top of his shorts.

According to a criminal complaint, the officer detected the odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle. Knudsen had difficulty mantaining his balance and was given field sobriety tests, which he failed. He was taken to Forbes Regional Hospital for a blood alcohol content test. The officer noted his fingertips were blackened.

During a search, an officer found seeds and stems inside a fanny pack around Knudsen's waist. From inside the car, police recovered two marijuana cigarettes from the center console, a pill container, eyedrops, razor blade, two smoking pipes covered with residue, a hypodermic needle, some pills and a used heroin stamp bag.

Additional charges of possession of marijuana, driving under the influence (general impairment/incapable of driving safely, first offense), driving over divider, failure to yield to emergency vehicle and period for requiring lighted lamps were withdrawn.

In other cases heard by Caulfield on Jan. 9:

  • Holly Ann Gostowski, 33, of West Mifflin waived her right to a preliminary hearing on charges of intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered, use/possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while operator privileges are suspended or revoked. According to a criminal complaint, a Swissvale police officer was flagged down on Roslyn Street on Nov. 3 by a man who said he had witnessed a man walk up to a black Jeep and hand something to a woman driver. The woman began to smoke a substance in a pipe, according to the witness. Later, the Jeep pulled up behind the officer while he was on patrol. The officer initiated a traffic stop and the driver, Gostowski, admitted to not having a valid driver's license. A search produced a rock of suspected crack cocaine from Gostowski's bra.
  • Cathy Montalbano, 53, of Swissvale waived her right to a preliminary hearing on charges of use/possession of drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct (hazardous/physical offense) filed by Swissvale police. On Oct. 17, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Narcotics Enforcement Team was conducting operations and observed a hand-to-hand drug transaction occur between Montalbano and an unknown man in the 2300 block of Milligan Avenue. According to a criminal complaint, Montalbano admitted to purchasing two bags of heroin, using one and giving the second one to a neighbor.
  • Otto Swearingen, 40, of Swissvale waived his right to a preliminary hearing on disorderly conduct-hazardous physical offense and terroristic threats with the intent to terrorize another after an incident on Nov. 14.
  • Tevin Rochelle, 20, of Swissvale was held for court on charges of forgery (utters forged writing) and access device used to obtain or attempt to obtain property/services. According to a criminal complaint, a woman filed a stolen credit card report after unauthorized charges were made at several retail establishments totaling $124.96. Swissvale police were able to obtain images of a man using the cards to make purchases at a Regent Square business. The woman identified the man as Rochelle. 

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