Four suspects waived charges against them to county court during a preliminary hearing Thursday before District Judge Andrea Duffy in Montgomeryville.
One of the "big players," according to Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Jason Whalley, is Francesco "Frank" Messina, of 719 Schwab Road, Hatfield Township.
Messina waived all charges to county court July 5.
Messina, feet and hands shackled, shuffled into the courtroom with his head down in a blue Montgomery County Prison jumpsuit. He was represented by attorney Sean Cullen.
Whalley withdrew two felony charges against Messina from an initial arrest and lumped them into the charges against Messina for the wiretap case, so that the court was dealing with one criminal case.
filed two felony theft charges April 9 against Messina: theft by deception and deceptive or false business practices, wherein Messina allegedly sold, offered or exposed for sale, or delivered less than the represetned quantity of any commodity.
Duffy asked if Whalley would hold a preliminary hearing for those charges Thursday. Whalley said Cullen would visit Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Friday morning to address those charges. It is expected that the charges would, in essence, be waived. Whalley recommended $25,000 unsecured bail on those charges.
The following suspects waived charges against them Thursday:
- Joel Jay Payumo, aka Marissa Devine, (transgender), 251 E. Thompson St., Philadelphia
- Keith Chasteen, 251 E. Thompson St., Philadelphia
- John Griffith, 1626 Sheffield Drive, Whitpain Township
Griffith's bail was modified from $100,000 to $25,000 unsecured, in exchange for waiving all charges.
Two other suspects scheduled to have their preliminary hearings Thursday were continued.
John J. Welsh III, of 1150 Schwab Road, Hatfield Township, a neighbor of Messina, is scheduled for a hearing June 6 at 10 a.m. Welsh III has requested a hearing, according to Whalley.
Ryan Burns, of 804 Marlbrook Lane, Upper Gwynedd (Madison at Willowyck), had his preliminary hearing moved to May 31 at 10:45 a.m.
Of the remaining 16 suspects, 15 of them are scheduled for June 6.
One suspect - Dan Ells, of 225 East Second Street, Apt. B in Lansdale - is the only one with a hearing scheduled on a different date from the other suspects: May 29 at 11:15 a.m.
Three suspects charged in the trafficking ring are not in custody yet, according to Whalley:
- Timothy Beck, 55 Meng Road, Limerick Township
- Kevin Saldutti, 1415 East Hewson St., Philadelphia
- Judy Cress, 913 Township Line Road, Phoenixville
One suspect has no criminal docket filed in the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System: Antonio Encarnacion Perales, 1002 N. Marshall St. 2nd floor, Philadelphia.