Former W&J student ordered to trial in campus drug case

November 18, 2013
Former Washington & Jefferson College student James Robert O’Grady, right, arrives at his preliminary hearing Monday with his attorney, Christopher Blackwell, to face charges he had drugs and a weapon in his campus dorm room. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A former Washington & Jefferson College student was ordered Monday to stand trial in Washington County Court on charges he had a cache of assorted drugs, a handgun and ammunition in his campus dormitory room last month.

District Judge Robert Redlinger ruled there was sufficient evidence against James Robert O’Grady, 21, of Mechanicsburg, presented at his preliminary hearing to order a trial in the case.

Campus police filed charges against O’Grady after searching his room Oct. 3 and claiming to have found four large bags of marijuana, 14.7 grams of cocaine, a similar amount of a white crystal substance believed to be Ecstasy and 13 grams of a white powder, court records show. He’s also accused of having an unregistered .40-caliber handgun, a large amount of ammunition and $744 in his room.

Campus police Lt. Joe Murray said Monday investigators were led to O’Grady’s room in Residence Hall by Geoffrey D. Stumpo, 18, of Jerome, a student who was alleged earlier Oct. 3 to have in his possession eight bags of marijuana.

Murray said another student residing in O’Grady’s suite allowed officers to enter the area, where they said they found two bongs in open view and hallucinogenic mushrooms in a suitcase.

Someone called O’Grady and told him police wanted to talk to him, Murray said, and he returned to the suite and gave officers permission to search his room.

But O’Grady’s attorney, Christopher Blackwell of Washington, argued his client didn’t give officers permission to search the room that day.

Blackwell suggested his client replied to police, “No. You’re going to do what you’re going to do anyway,” when they questioned him about the search.

Following the hearing, Blackwell said he will ask a county judge to suppress the evidence against his client because police didn’t have a search warrant during the investigation.

He said O’Grady has moved home with his parents and enrolled in a community college.

“He’s trying to straighten out his life,” Blackwell said.

O’Grady was charged via summons with three counts of drug possession with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia. He waived his right to an arraignment Monday and was released on $10,000 unsecured bond.

Stumpo faces a preliminary hearing on a possession of marijuana charge at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday before Redlinger.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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