2013-12-19 / Local & State

Hess Given State Time In Drug Delivery Cases

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Albert Hess Albert Hess NEWS EDITOR

A McConnellsburg man accused of selling prescriptions pills was told by Judge Carol L. Van Horn he had manipulated the court system for his own benefit. However, his accountability would begin with sentencing Tuesday and the delays would end.

Sixty-six-year-old Albert “Jake” Hess stood before Judge Van Horn in the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas on December 17 for sentencing on two counts of delivery of a controlled substance.

The cases involving Hess, most recently of 212 Lincoln Way East, date back to the filing of charges in October 2012. A Pennsylvania State Police undercover officer alleged in charging documents Hess sold his prescription opiates to a confidential informant at the former Horton’s Garage and at the foot of the hill from the Forbes Road School District in 2011.

Since that time, Van Horn said Hess has entered guilty pleas, been granted several continuances due to medical issues, withdrawn the pleas and entered new guilty pleas on the morning of a trial while the jurors waited in the adjoining room.

“You are guilty of selling drugs, and you will be sentenced,” said Van Horn, who noted his drug delivery involvement has advanced over the years from marijuana to more sophisticated drugs. The judge also pointed out Hess’s wife, Gayle, accepted responsibility for her role in the two cases and spent four months in the Franklin County Jail for criminal conspiracy.

“I choose to believe nothing you say,” said Van Horn, who pointed out Hess has given multiple, varied accounts regarding his involvement in the drug transactions as well as his own history of drug and alcohol use.

Meanwhile, Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall stated Albert and Gayle Hess were wards of the state. As a result, they were able to receive their opiate prescriptions for a copay of $3 per bottle. Those bottles were in turn sold for $350.

“This was a money making operation,” said Kendall citing the need for protection from the community. “... This fuels the heroin epidemic ... . The pills come from Albert Hess and people like him, who are destroying our community.”

“We believe he won’t stop doing this ... . We need to send a message to the community this won’t be tolerated,” he concluded.

Van Horn ordered Hess to complete between 32 and 72 months in a state correctional institution. That sentence could be reduced to a minimum of 24 months due to his eligibility in the RRRI program. Hess will also pay restitution of $350 in each of the two cases for state police drug buy money as well as $1,000 in fines.

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