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Speedy trial violation frees ex-Philadelphia Airport Security officer in drug case

WILLIAM SPORT — A former security officer at Philadelphia International Airport has been released from prison in Lycoming County because he was not brought to trial within the required 180 days on drug charges.

Judge Marc F. Lovecchio Monday granted a defense motion and released Damien S. Hartsfield, 30, of Philadelphia, on personal recognizance.

He had been jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail since February, when he was arrested after 650 bags of heroin were found in a vehicle state police stopped on Route 15 south of South Williamsport.

Assistant District Attorney Melissa A. Kalus argued against his release, pointing out Hartsfield has no local ties. Hartsfield has no criminal record and has family support, defense attorney Kyle W. Rude responded.

Kalus also noted jury selection in Hartsfield’s case is Friday, with the trial scheduled to begin Nov. 7. Rude promised his client would be present for both.

With no evidence indicating Hartsfield is a danger to the community, Lovecchio said he had no choice but to set nominal bail.

Hartsfield was arrested after state police say they watched an alleged drug transaction between him and people in two other vehicles.

People in the other vehicles admitted buying heroin from Hartsfield, the arrest affidavit alleges.

Hartsfield is awaiting trial on charges of delivery and possession with intent to deliver heroin, criminal use of a communication device and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities.

Kalus explained the delay in bringing Hartsfield to trial was caused by waiting to see if the U.S. attorney’s office would adopt the case.

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