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PITTSBURGH Sharon woman convicted for drug possession



Published: Thu, September 27, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The woman could face as much as life in prison for her drug conviction.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

PITTSBURGH -- A Sharon woman faces at least 10 years in federal prison after her conviction in federal court Wednesday on a drug possession charge.

Natalie Garbutt, 35, of Spruce Avenue, could face as much as life and a fine of $4 million under federal sentencing guidelines, but the law mandates a minimum of 10 years, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case. The actual sentence imposed is based on the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history of the defendant.

Bond revoked: U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohil set sentencing for Dec. 13 and revoked Garbutt's bond.

A jury of four men and eight women deliberated just three hours before finding Garbutt guilty of one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 1.75 ounces of crack cocaine, said U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. Garbutt was arrested on drug charges by agents of the Mercer County Drug Task Force in a raid at her home on Aug. 31, 2000.

Police said her home was a major drug distribution point. When police arrived with a search warrant, officers saw Garbutt throwing crack cocaine out a second-floor bedroom window, they said. A short time later, police found her hiding in a closet in that same bedroom.

Evidence: A search of the house turned up about 2.6 ounces of crack cocaine, two digital scales used to weigh the drug, drug packaging paraphernalia and $1,067 in cash.

The Drug Task Force and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office had been investigating suspected drug trafficking at the Garbutt residence for several months, police said.

The FBI and the Mercer County Sheriff's Department also aided in the investigation.




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