After His Cooperation, Man Given Probation The Quakertown Man Faced 15 Years In Jail. He Helped Authorities Break Up A Major Drug Ring.

Posted: January 21, 1999

A Bucks County man was rewarded yesterday for helping authorities break up a major Philadelphia area drug ring last year.

Paul Billman, 31, of Quakertown, was placed on two years' probation by Bucks County Court Judge Kenneth G. Biehn. Billman, who had faced up to 15 years in prison, pleaded guilty last summer to charges of conspiracy and sale of about two grams of cocaine to an undercover police officer in June 1997 in Doylestown Borough.

Deputy District Attorney T. Gary Gambardella said after the sentencing that he recommended probation because of Billman's ``extensive cooperation in aiding police in the investigation'' of drug activity.

``He got a big break, but he earned it,'' the prosecutor said.

Gambardella said Billman was one of several people implicated in a 17-month investigation by a dozen agencies in Philadelphia and Bucks County that led to the seizure last August of 228 pounds of cocaine worth about $16 million, one of the largest such seizures ever in this area.

Police said the cocaine was found in the Northeast Philadelphia garage of Luis Rivera, 32, of the 9000 block of Convent Street. Gambardella said Rivera, arrested Aug. 26, was the boss of ``the Rivera organization,'' which had strong ties to gangs in New York and South America.

The Bucks County and Philadelphia District Attorney's Offices, in a September news conference to announce the seizure, used a chart that showed a connection between Billman and David E. Campbell, 32, of Hilltown Township, Gambardella said.

Campbell, arrested Aug. 16, headed a ring of several associates who sold cocaine throughout much of Bucks and Montgomery Counties, prosecutors said. Rivera was the supplier for Campbell, authorities said.

At the September news conference, Pennsylvania State Police Maj. Tyree Blocker said the seized cocaine was intended for sale in Philadelphia, the suburban counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery, and possibly much of Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

Authorities said the cocaine, found in the trunk of a Buick in what Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham called a ``nice, quiet neighborhood,'' allegedly came from South America through New York City.

Gambardella said authorities were still searching for the owner of the Buick, Luis Mario Rojas, also known as Miguel Garcia, whom he described as Rivera's boss. Rojas, 29, a native of Colombia, had been living on Fordham Road in Philadelphia.

Campbell, said to be a self-employed plumber, is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 2. State police said they found $100,000 cash and one-half kilogram of cocaine in a safe in Campbell's home.

Dale Estus, 43, of Hatboro, is due for trial in February, and Philip Wolotkiewicz, 39, of Upper Moreland, has a preliminary hearing set for March. Both face drug charges after being arrested in August in connection with the seizure.

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