Two Montco men admit to conspiring to purchase pot in Trappe

NORRISTOWN — A Whitpain man about to be sentenced for conspiring to purchase nearly two pounds of marijuana during a 2012 incident in Trappe admitted to a judge that he used the drug about a week ago.

“Possessing weed and smoking weed are still illegal,” Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill warned 25-year-old Peter Montijo after Montijo readily admitted to his recent drug use when questioned about it by the judge. “You got to stop.”

O’Neill sentenced Montijo to five years’ probation as part of a plea agreement after Montijo pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy engaging in possession with intent to deliver marijuana in connection with the July 2012 incident. The judge expressed incredulity that Montijo would engage in drug use just days before he was to appear in court and likely be tested. The judge warned Montijo that probation officials will be monitoring him closely for the next five years.

“They are going to test you, randomly and frequently,” O’Neill told Montijo, warning he could be locked up if he violates his probation.

Assistant District Attorney Kelly Lloyd wasn’t surprised, necessarily, by Montijo’s admission that he smoked marijuana as late as last week.

“I’d like to say, yes, that it does surprise me, but people that are engaged in this type of behavior continue to do it until somebody is watching them. So hopefully, now that the court is supervising him he’ll stray away from that type of behavior,” Lloyd said.

Montijo, of the 1500 block of Vernon Road, appeared to be resting or sleeping, his hand covering his face, while he slouched in a courtroom seat and waited for his case to be heard. Montijo, who was represented by defense lawyer Andrew Laird, appeared oblivious to others’ comments about his courtroom demeanor.

At one point, the judge uttered sarcastically, “This is a nice courtroom for sleeping isn’t it?”

Montijo’s co-conspirator, Ronald C. Stewart, 20, of the 700 block of Bayonet Court, Perkiomen, pleaded guilty to an identical charge and also was sentenced to five years’ probation. Stewart, who was represented by defense lawyer Basil Beck, also faces random drug testing.

“They are both admitting that they agreed with one another to go purchase marijuana from another individual and by virtue of the quantity that they were trying to purchase, that made it a felony,” alleged Lloyd, referring to the nearly two pounds of pot that were part of the transaction. “That quantity, it’s not for personal use.”

An investigation began July 31, 2012, when an informant notified members of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Narcotics Enforcement Team that two men, later identified as Montijo and Stewart, were to meet a third party at the Trappe Shopping Center to buy a large amount of marijuana, according to the arrest affidavit.

County detectives and Collegeville police set up surveillance on the shopping center’s parking lot and observed Montijo and Stewart arrive in a Toyota vehicle and park next to an Acura vehicle occupied by a male whose identity was not revealed in court papers. Montijo and Stewart allegedly got into the Acura and Stewart handed the driver of the Acura what was later determined to be $5,600 in cash, allegedly for the two pounds of marijuana found inside a bag in the trunk of the Acura, according to arrest documents.

Detectives moved in and all participants were taken into custody, according to court papers, which did not identify the driver of the Acura. Stewart and Montijo subsequently “stated that their intentions were to purchase a large amount of marijuana from a known drug dealer,” according to the criminal complaint.

When detectives searched the Toyota that Montijo had driven to the shopping center they seized a backpack that contained another 54 grams of marijuana, according to the arrest affidavit.

Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews