Days before an alleged major player in the "Operation Last Call" drug ring is set to go to trial, police arrested another alleged participant in the Baltimore-to-Altoona criminal conspiracy: accused trafficker Stephen Piner's longtime girlfriend.
On Wednesday, members of the Blair County Drug Task Force arrested Melissa Marie Thompson, 36, 1424 18th Ave. She was committed to Blair County Prison in lieu of $250,000 cash bail.
A grand jury presentment, unsealed Thursday, names Thompson and several other new participants in the alleged drug scheme. The 21-page presentment indicates Thompson dealt drugs for Piner, repeatedly speaking in taped phone calls about sales and suspected informants' identities.
Thompson kept frequent contact with Piner and his brother, Kenneth, who allegedly distributed cocaine and prescription drugs from the Corner Bar in Altoona, the grand jury found.
A lengthy investigation led to more than a dozen arrests over the past two years. Participants allegedly smuggled cocaine and other drugs to Altoona from Baltimore.
One of the ring's alleged leaders, 32-year-old Jermaine Samuel, is set for a trial next week. Samuel is named repeatedly in the fresh presentment, raising questions as to whether he could face additional charges.
Officials from the Attorney General's Office, including Senior Deputy Attorney General Dave Gorman, the case's chief prosecutor, did not reply to requests for comment Thursday.
Several other new, alleged participants are named in the grand jury report - many of them are allegedly drug users, some of whom also dealt drugs - but no other names appeared on the state courts' online database Thursday afternoon.
Thompson didn't face charges in the first wave of "Operation Last Call," the authorities' moniker for the investigation.
Thompson allegedly drove her boyfriend to at least one drug deal, the presentment stated. During occasional lovers' quarrels with Stephen Piner, she would communicate instead with his brother, who would set up deals instead, prosecutors said.
During recorded phone calls, Thompson fretted about police informants - at one point in 2011, she told her boyfriend that a drug customer might be working with the authorities, the grand jury said.