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Police: York prison guard accused in drug-smuggling plot still being actively investigated

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Suspended York County Prison guard Joshua Martinez arrives for a preliminary hearing  before District Judge James Morgan, Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Martinez is accused of conspiring with locked-up murder defendant Lleland Wade and Wade's girlfriend, Chelsea Cochran, to smuggle drugs into York County Prison.
John A. Pavoncello photo

State police said they are still actively investigating a York County Prison corrections officer who is now facing trial, accused of plotting with an accused murderer to smuggle drugs inside the facility.

At the close of a preliminary hearing Tuesday, District Judge James Morgan determined that enough evidence exists against Joshua Antonio Martinez for his case to be moved to York County Common Pleas Court.

Martinez, 31, of Red Lion, is free on $75,000 bail, charged with drug possession with intent to deliver, conspiracy to commit that offense and conspiracy to introduce contraband into the prison. All three charges are felonies.

He remains on administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation, prison Warden Clair Doll has said. Martinez's defense attorney, George Margetas, said his client is suspended without pay.

Joshua Antonio Martinez

Martinez maintains his innocence, Margetas said.

"At no time did he have any intention on bringing contraband into the prison," he said, adding that Martinez "found himself in a tough situation."

"He may be guilty of having the money in his possession, but that's it," the attorney said.

When told it sounded as if he was implying Martinez intended to keep the money but not deliver the drugs, Margetas replied, "The evidence does point to that, doesn't it?"

Ongoing investigations: State police Trooper Timothy Richartz, the lead investigator in the case, testified Tuesday that his investigation into Martinez isn't over and that there is also a separate investigation into a second drug-smuggling ring in York County Prison.

Martinez is not a suspect in that second ring, the trooper confirmed as he was questioned by senior deputy prosecutor Melanie Wiesman.

During cross-examination, Margetas asked whether Martinez had brought drugs into the prison prior to being arrested.

"That's part of an ongoing investigation," Richartz said.

More:Police: York County Prison official pointed gun at neighbors while drunk

Also testifying Tuesday was Lt. Joseph Johnston, who is part of York County Prison's intelligence-gathering team.

Suspended York County Prison guard Joshua Martinez, right, talks with his attorney George Margetas before his preliminary hearing  before District Judge James Morgan, Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Martinez is accused of conspiring with locked-up murder defendant Lleland Wade and Wade's girlfriend, Chelsea Cochran, to smuggle drugs into York County Prison.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Johnston testified he was investigating drugs being brought into the prison and focused on accused murderer Lleland Wade, who intel suggested had been a regular buyer of Suboxone in the prison, and who officials suspected of graduating to being a distributor inside the prison.

Suboxone is an opioid used to help opioid addicts in recovery, but like any opioid painkiller, can also be abused.

Wade's phone calls and letters were monitored, as were those of other inmates suspected of separately bringing in drugs, Johnston testified.

Guard 'M': One of those people indicated during a prison phone call that a prison guard with a Hispanic-sounding last name beginning with "M" was involved, Johnston said. The prison housing unit where Martinez worked also made him and his fellow employees in the area suspects, according to Johnston.

The lieutenant said that's when he and Richartz started coordinating their investigations.

According to Johnston, Wade spoke on the phone with his girlfriend, Chelsea Cochran, and another person, Stephanie Brubaker, about bringing in drugs and  cash. Wade never mentioned Martinez by name, he said.

On June 6, state troopers followed Martinez as he left York County Prison and drove to Cochran's home on Lakeview Drive in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, Richartz said.

He reached in the mailbox, got in his car, left and went to a nearby convenience store, Johnston said.

After that, troopers watching Cochran's home saw her put something in her mailbox and a short time later, Martinez returned and took something from the mailbox, he testified. 

More:Police: Former Adams County jail drug counselor smuggled in opioids, pot

Stopped for speeding: Martinez was pulled over on Route 30 in Hellam Township for speeding, Richartz said — 86 mph in a 55-mph zone, allegedly — which is when the undercover troopers approached him. It's unclear if the trooper who was running radar was aware Martinez was under surveillance.

Martinez declined to let them search his car, so he was detained and his car was towed to a York City location where it could be examined, the trooper said. After obtaining search warrants for the car and for Martinez, troopers found a bag in Martinez's trunk.

Inside the bag was $2,920 cash and 75 Suboxone strips, known on the street as "oranges," Richartz testified.

Also in the car was a letter from Wade and allegedly to Martinez, giving him directions to retrieve something from Cochran's mailbox and saying he would give the letter's reciepient $3, "which we believe to mean $3,000," Richartz said.

Wade also wrote in the letter that he would hold off until the recipient had a day off and that he had all the product pre-sold, the trooper said.

Another letter: After Martinez, Wade, Cochran and Brubaker were arrested, Wade sent a letter to Richartz "asking for forgiveness for Chelsea Cochran and Stephanie Brubaker," the trooper said.

The handwriting in that letter matches the handwriting in the letter found in Martinez's car, Richartz testified.

The trooper said Martinez told him that he knew there would be cash in the mailbox and that there was "a chance" something else might be there, too.

Cochran later made a full confession, Richartz said.

Wade, 35, and Cochran, 25, also are facing trial on their charges in the case, while Brubaker, 50, of Mohnton, Berks County, awaits her preliminary hearing, court records state.

Wade, formerly of Mississippi and most recently of Lancaster County, is being held in York County Prison without bail on first-degree murder and conspiracy charges for allegedly killing Aaron Wollman, 25, of Denver, Lancaster County.

State police said Wade fatally shot Wollman during a drug deal in Lower Chanceford Township on April 16, 2018.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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