JOHNSTOWN – A Williamsburg man who came to the attention of federal authorities when he ordered 500 oxycodone pills containing fentanyl on the darknet was sentenced to three years in federal prison on Tuesday.
After his release, 40-year-old Jesse D. Ginter will be placed under surveillance for three years, including one with house arrest, according to the sentence handed down by US District Judge Kim R. Gibson.
According to a memorandum prepared by US Assistant Prosecutor David Lew, Homeland Security officers were able to obtain a “Early search warrant” for the delivery of the pills to Ginter.
The search warrant became active when Ginter opened the shipment of pills, and officers immediately entered the residence where Ginter lived with his longtime girlfriend and two children.
While searching the house, officers found fentanyl, fentanyl derivatives, cocaine, methamphetamine, cannabinoids and marijuana.
Officers also found evidence that Ginter was in the drug business, including a digital scale, bags of stamps, money, and notes from his narcotics transactions.
During the search, officers confiscated four rifles and three pistols. Gibson confiscated the guns on Tuesday, placing them in federal custody.
According to Lew’s memorandum, “these facts demonstrate that (Ginter’s) efforts to acquire and distribute narcotics were considerable.
“He possessed many dangerous and addictive controlled substances with the intention of distributing them and (he) maintained many tools of the drug trade.”
The federal government wanted Gibson to impose a prison sentence of 57 to 71 months.
Ginter’s attorneys Thomas M. Dickey of Altoona and John J. Valkovci, a former federal prosecutor in Johnstown, have suggested a sentence of 24 to 30 months.
Gibson granted a waiver after an emotional defense presentation, which included an appeal for mercy from Ginter’s mother, Carolyn Ginter, who since birth has been confined to a wheelchair due to a traffic accident.
She not only spoke to the judge, but sent him a letter in which she stated: “Jesse has always been a huge help to me. He is kind, caring, compassionate and empathetic.
During the hearing, Valkovci noted that Ginter had a difficult childhood, being raised mainly by grandparents due to his mother’s state of health. Ginter dropped out of school in grade 11, but was able to support his family while working for 15 years in a sawmill.
In 2015, while he was lifting a bundle of logs, something in Ginter’s back exploded, according to Valkovci.
This “pop” was the start of Ginter’s slide into the drug world.
He sustained an injury to a vertebra that affected his sciatic nerve.
He started to experience severe pain but was told that without health insurance he could not pay for back surgery.
Instead, hospital officials referred him to a pain management clinic, but ultimately he couldn’t afford the clinic’s services.
He then turned to the streets and became a multiple drug user, leading to heroin and fentanyl addiction.
He sold drugs to support his habit, Valkovci said.
“I’m not saying Jesse made a mistake. … He willfully chose to commit a crime, but as Valkovci argued, Ginter was not a “typical street-level dealer ‘driven by greed.
“He was a responsible and hard-working person who committed a crime”, said Valkovci.
The defense also argued that since his arrest and pre-trial detention, Ginter has experienced unusually harsh conditions of detention.
Ginter has been housed in the Cambria County Jail, which has maintained a constant lockdown of inmates for more than a year due to the spread of the coronavirus.
The 17 months that Ginter spent in the county jail was a period of “insulation” for him – unable to see his family or even have contact with other detainees.
Ginter’s prison experience was “Expensive and excessive”, said the defense.
As Valkovci and his mother spoke, Ginter shed tears.
Then he spoke.
Ginter said he intended to become a productive member of society.
After all these months away from drugs he said he realized he had been “In a bad place.
Ginter said he feels ashamed for all the harm he has done to his family and to society.
“I know this will never happen again. I am sorry,” he stated.
Gibson said he granted the waiver to drop the sentence in part because Ginter had cooperated with authorities and because of the conditions of detention he experienced, the condition of his mother and his own. family responsibility.
After the hearing, Dickey said he was happy Gibson kept an open mind during the sentencing process and was able to respond to the defense arguments.
In addition to jail and supervision, Gibson ordered Ginter to go through the Bureau of Prison’s 500-hour drug treatment program.