Montgomery County woman in halfway house arrested on drug, arms charges

Posted: August 03, 2010

A Montgomery County woman living in a Philadelphia halfway house for prerelease felons has been arrested on drug and firearms charges, officials said Monday.

Tonya D. Taylor, 50, of Church Street in Willow Grove, was pulled over Sunday by Upper Moreland police, according to District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

She said that Upper Moreland police had learned that the woman was disobeying prerelease rules and that the matter had been brought to the attention of the state Department of Corrections.

"But nothing was done," Ferman said, blaming corrections officials for what she called "a real lack of oversight" over convicted felons released into the community before becoming eligible for parole.

Taylor came to the attention of authorities after they watched her make two cocaine sales while on prerelease status earlier this summer, Ferman said.

A search of Taylor's van revealed a loaded ARMI .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a loaded .38-caliber revolver, and two ounces of cocaine, according to court papers. Also, $1,562 was found in Taylor's bra.

Taylor was convicted in 2004 of drug trafficking, drug possession, and having drug paraphernalia. She was sentenced to serve a 51/2-to-11-year term in Muncy State Prison and would have been eligible for parole in March 2011.

But in March she was placed on pre-parole status and released to Hannah House, a halfway house in the 2800 block of Hutchinson Street, Ferman said.

Susan McNaughton, press secretary for the Corrections Department, said that when inmates were within a year of their minimum time served, authorities placed them in a prerelease house to reintegrate them into society.

In general, she said, the department seeks input from the district attorney and the judge before making that call. She said she did not know whether that happened in Taylor's case.

"In cases where they don't hear back, they will move forward with the process," McNaughton said.

Asked why no action was taken after June 11, when police told corrections officials that Taylor had violated the conditions of prerelease, McNaughton said the department was aware of her case, but police filed no charges.

"These centers are not prisons. There is supervision. These individuals are permitted to sign out, go to specific locations, and be back at a certain time," she said.

Hannah House declined to comment.

Taylor was arraigned Sunday on charges of drug trafficking, resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, firearms violations, and receiving stolen property.

She was ordered held in the Montgomery County prison, with bail set at $100,000 cash, for a preliminary hearing Aug. 11 in Hatboro.


Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com

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