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BY MICHAEL J. RUDOLF Wyoming County Press Examiner

TUNKHANNOCK – A 43-year old Laceyville man who cut a heroin deal in August in the Walmart parking lot pleaded guilty on Friday to drug charges.

James Buttito, of Church Street, was accused of attempting to sell cocaine following an undercover drug transaction.

According to the criminal complaint, on Aug. 30 police were contacted by a confidential informant who had made arrangements to purchase 150 packets of heroin from Buttito.

The informant alleged that Buttito and another individual both use and distribute heroin, travelling frequently to Paterson, N.J., to obtain the drug.

The informant made arrangements for Buttito to be paid $750 at the Walmart parking lot in Eaton Township at 11 a.m., so Buttito could go to New Jersey to obtain the heroin.

The informant paid Buttito, who then headed in the direction of New Jersey.

Around 8:15 p.m., police spotted Buttito heading west on Route 6 from Clarks Summit to Tunkhannock.

About 15 minutes later, state police pulled Buttito over for a traffic stop in Tunkhannock Township. Buttito was asked to consent to having his car searched.

Police found a 141 packets of suspected heroin hidden in the trunk, and arrested Buttito.

On Friday, President Judge Russell Shurtleff noted that Buttito has been proposed for admission to the Wyoming/Sullivan Counties Drug Court.

Shurtleff explained that if Buttito completes the program, which includes substance abuse treatment, community service work and other steps, his sentences will be suspended.

Shurtleff noted that Buttito has been in treatment programs before, and asked him what is different this time.

Noting that he has recently lost his home and his girlfriend moved out, Buttito said he has more motivation now.

“I’m going to give it all I have this time. My addiction has affected my job, my family, my community,” he said.

Buttio was charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, which carries maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, and criminal use of a communications facility, with a maximum penalty of seven years and $15,000.

The actual sentence will be imposed at a later date, Shurtleff said.

Also on Friday, James Simmers, 40, of Tunkhannock, pleaded guilty to manufacture of a controlled substance.

He could face up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine when sentenced.

According to his criminal complaint, police learned that Simmers was growing marijuana at his home on Sugar Hollow Road in Eaton Township.

Caseworkers for Wyoming County Children and Youth Services received similar reports from someone concerned about the safety of Simmers’ son.

The caseworkers said when they visited the home on June 5, 2009, they saw numerous marijuana plants growing in a room with the aid of fluorescent lights.

When police came to the home, Simmers agreed to a search, saying he had nothing to hide.

Police learned from witnesses that after the caseworkers left, Simmers ran through the house removing the marijuana plants and equipment, stuffing them into garbage bags and dumping them into a ravine behind the house. Police found the items during their search.

Others pleading guilty on Friday were:

Gregory Boylan, 40, of Tunkhannock, driving under the influence (second offense) for an incident in Tunkhannock Borough on July 31.

James Canfield, 24, of Clifford, driving under the influence (second offense) for an incident in Lemon Township on April 23.

Garry Ballerini, 35, of Tunkhannock, driving under the influence (second offense) for an incident in Washington Township on Aug. 6.

John Ricci, 37, of Wilkes-Barre, harassment for an incident on Dec. 15, 2009, in Monroe Township.