Drug kingpin renders guilty pleas | News, Sports, Jobs – Altoona Mirror

Mar 8, 2022
HOLLIDAYSBURG — A leader in a drug-trafficking organization that brought hundreds of pounds of crystal methamphetamine to Blair County in 2018 and 2019 will spend 12 to 30 years in prison.
Khalil Graham, 31, Altoona, said little in court on Monday where he rendered guilty pleas to criminal charges in exchange for a recommended sentence.
Graham, when questioned by Judge Jackie Bernard, who accepted the guilty pleas, acknowledged that he was taking responsibility for his actions and that the pleas were in his best interest.
The judge encouraged Graham to use his forthcoming time in prison to become a different person.
“You made some poor decisions,” Bernard told Graham.
Graham had the option Monday of advising Bernard that he wanted to go on trial in April.
Instead, state Deputy Attorney General Michael Madeira and defense attorney Petra K. Gross of Carlisle told Bernard that they had negotiated a sentence in exchange for Graham’s guilty pleas to possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, illegal possession of a firearm, criminal conspiracy, criminal use of a communication device and corrupt organization charges.
Graham, who will be transferred to a state prison to finish his sentence, will be credited for his incarceration time dating back to
Oct. 10, 2019. That’s when investigating police officers stopped Graham and Carlos Lee Custalow Jr. in Cumberland County. They were traveling by vehicle toward Altoona. Inside the vehicle, officers found 3 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of $2.5 million.
At the time of the vehicle stop, investigators were already familiar with the illegal drug pipeline identified that had been the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation leading to criminal charges and additional criminal charges filed in February 2020 against 17 people, including Graham.
Part of the grand jury report revealed that Graham allegedly bragged about the money that the organization was making and told a girlfriend: “If everyone could sell drugs and do what he does, everyone would.”
Madeira previously identified Graham and Custalow as the top leaders in the Blair County portion of the drug trafficking organization.
Custalow is now serving 18 to 40 years’ incarceration, based on his guilty pleas in September to drug-trafficking offenses.
Madeira said Graham’s sentence reflects his ongoing cooperation with police and prosecutors and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions.
Madeira is also prosecuting Philadelphia resident Adrian L. Speedwell for his role in the drug trafficking organization. Speedwell, who was taken into custody and brought to Blair County in November, currently remains in jail with bail set at $1 million cash.
Speedwell’s attorney, Jeremy-Evans Alva of Philadelphia, has filed a motion with the court seeking to have his bail changed.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.
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