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Man sentenced for setting up ex-girlfriend in phony drug deal

October 23, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- If there is a moral to the story of Eric Beecher it is this: If you plan to set someone up, don't tell them ahead of time.

Beecher was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court to 21 months to 11 1/2 years in prison on seven criminal counts, some having to do with his using a woman to pose as an ex-girlfriend in a phony drug deal.

"You basically set up the mother of your son," Judge Carol Van Horn said before sentencing Beecher, 28, of 151 S. Fourth St. "Setting up this scam to take down a woman ... that's just pretty despicable conduct."

In October 2007, Beecher was recruited by the Pennsylvania State Police to serve as a confidential informant to set up drug purchases, according to the affidavit of probable cause. On Nov. 28, Beecher told police he could set up a purchase of cocaine from a woman living on Birch Street.

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Accompanied by an undercover trooper, Beecher called a woman, met her outside the house and exchanged $200 for packets of white powder. Police had a photo that appeared to be of the woman who sold Beecher the white powder, according to records.

A day later, Beecher arranged to buy cocaine and Percocet tablets from the same woman at a laundromat in Fayetteville, Pa. Again, he exchanged cash for a paper bag containing white powder and pills, police said.

This time, however, Beecher told police the woman's real name, according to the affidavit.

When the white powder from both purchases was tested by the state police crime lab in January, it came back as crushed acetaminophen, an over-the-counter pain reliever.

On Jan. 29, the ex-girlfriend who lived on Birch Street was taken into custody on a delivery charge, police said. The following day, the other woman also was charged with a drug offense, police said.

The ex-girlfriend protested that she had never sold drugs and that Beecher had threatened to set her up using a woman who looked like her, police said. Beecher made his threat after a Nov. 19 domestic relations hearing at which he was ordered to pay child support, the woman told police.

Further, she had reported the threat to the Chambersburg Police Department the same day and the report was on file, state police said.

The other woman told police that Beecher crushed the acetaminophen tablets, gave her the powder and had another person drive her to Birch Street to meet him. When he called her on a cell phone in the presence of the undercover officer, he used the ex-girlfriend's first name.

The woman told police that Beecher had her "stuff her clothes and dress" like the ex-girlfriend, according to the affidavit. He also got the buy money back from her later, police said.

Beecher basically repeated the process for the sale at the laundromat on Nov. 29, police said.

Beecher, who pleaded guilty to the charges in August, told Van Horn he was upset with the ex-girlfriend because he had given her the child due to problems he was having with drugs. The ex-girlfriend later would not let him see the child, he said.

Beecher was sentenced on charges of delivery, false reports to law enforcement, tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice, along with an unrelated charge of criminal conspiracy to commit forgery. He also pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving under the influence and giving false identification to law enforcement in another unrelated case.

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