It Took a Village to Bring Down a Fentanyl & Heroin Drug Ring

| March 16, 2019

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – It takes a village to catch a deadly alleged fentanyl and heroin ring when the operation stretches from the Pittsburgh area to Clarion County and the surrounding area.

(Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)

A joint press conference held by Clarion County District Attorney Mark T. Aaron, Assistant District Attorney Drew J. Welsh, Clarion County Chief Detective William Peck, and Clarion-based State Police Commander Scott Bauer outlined the work and cooperation that led to the arrest of six individuals who allegedly operated a regional drug ring that also led to the death a Clarion County man who was sold fentanyl.

Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron announced the arrest of six people following a multi-county drug investigation initiated by the November 2018 overdose death of a Clarion man.

Charges were filed against Aaron Ernest Johnson, of Pittsburgh; Joseph David Hoffman, of St. Marys; Spencer Gene Rudolph, of Shippenville; William A. Fourness Jr., of Weedville; Kasey M. Eidinger, of Ridgway; and Ryan Ritchie Gleixner, of St. Marys.

(Pictured clockwise: Johnson, Eidinger, Fourness, and Rudolph. Mugshots of Gleixner and Hoffman were not available.)

(Pictured clockwise: Johnson, Eidinger, Fourness, and Rudolph. Mugshots of Gleixner and Hoffman were not available.)

Johnson and Eidinger were arraigned on charges related to this case; they are currently lodged in the Clarion County Jail awaiting preliminary hearings.

Rudolph is currently lodged in the Clarion County Jail on a previous arrest for drug trafficking.

Rudolph, Hoffman, Fourness, and Gleixner have not yet been arraigned on this case.

“Never has there been a more direct lethal threat to the welfare of rural communities in general, and Clarion County in particular, than the sale of fentanyl because fentanyl is death. Plain and simple,” said Aaron.

“It is sold to our young people with no regard for the deaths that are virtually certain to occur. Sometimes it is sold from one attic to feed their addiction. However, at the higher levels, as we reached in this case, there is always a simple, despicable, motive of selling death for profit.”

Clarion County District Attorney Mark T. Aaron and Assistant District Attorney Drew J. Welsh

Clarion County District Attorney Mark T. Aaron and Assistant District Attorney Drew J. Welsh

Welsh outlined the alleged criminal charges that triggered an investigation after the death of the Clarion resident.

“The investigation revealed that fentanyl and heroin were being packaged and distributed by Aaron Johnson in Monroeville. The investigation led to William Fourness of Elk County, along with his wife Kasey (Eidinger).  They are charged with developing a network with Johnson to bring his fentanyl and heroin to Northwestern Pennsylvania. Fourness would then direct Ryan Gleixner, Joseph Hoffman, and Spencer Rudolph (to) eventually sell that fentanyl and heroin across Northwestern Pennsylvania.”

“For example, the fentanyl that killed a young Clarion County man in November last year allegedly traveled from Allegheny County and eventually arrived in Clarion County after making stops in Elk and Jefferson County.”

“The only way all law enforcement can address this plague is by all law enforcement agencies working together,” said Aaron.

“The law enforcement professionals involved in this case are the finest that law enforcement gets; they see fentanyl is killing our young people, and all old archaic turf wars and jurisdictional squabbles have gone by the wayside because no one knows better than the men and women of law enforcement that fentanyl is killing a generation.”

The “Village” that was needed for this investigation included:

  • Clarion Borough Police
  • PA State Police Troop C Vice Unit
  • Clarion County Narcotics Enforcement Team
  • PA State Police Clarion barracks
  • PA State Police Ridgway barracks
  • Elk County Detective Gregory McManus
  • The City of St. Marys Police
  • Ridgway Borough Police
  • Monroeville Police Department, Sgt. Krut, Detective Unit and patrol unit
  • Clarion County Adult Probation
  • Allegheny County Adult Probation
  • Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office
  • Elk County District Attorney’s Office
  • Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office
  • PA State Police SERT Unit
  • PA State Police K-9 Unit
  • Swissvale Borough Police K-9 Unit

Sergeant Scott Bauer gave special recognition to Chief Peck and Trooper Craddock of the Vice team. He emphasized that although it was a total team effort, Peck and Craddock spent countess hours on this investigation.

Clarion-based State Police Commander Scott Bauer

Clarion-based State Police Commander Scott Bauer

“Chief Peck and Trooper Craddock should be commended for their efforts,” said Bauer.

“These two guys spent numerous hours, days, weeks on this case. We owe them gratitude…Again, it was a total team effort.”

Sargeant Bauer also explained that the investigation began after the death in Clarion Borough.

Clarion County Chief of Police and Chief Detective William Peck

Clarion County Chief of Police and Chief Detective William Peck

Clarion County Chief Detective William Peck stated that he was proud of the Clarion Borough Police Department for their determination and dedication.

“I want to thank Jay Kerle at the probation office for providing information on Mr. Rudolph who was selling drugs in Shippenville. We were able to link that information to the victim in this case.”

“Numerous investigations were conducted between the Clarion Borough Police Department and the state police. Basically, Trooper Craddock – with the allowance of the state police – was a ‘Clarion Borough Police Officer.’ We worked with him daily. Without his help, we would not be here today.”

Drug Ring from Pittsburgh to Clarion County and surrounding areas.

Drug Ring from Pittsburgh to Clarion County and surrounding areas.

Drug display at press conference.

Drug display at press conference.


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