Man found guilty of drug charges at trial he didn’t attend

An Erie man who was accused of supplying thousands of dollars of heroin to dealers in Venango County was convicted of felony drug charges this week at a trial in Venango County that he didn’t attend.

Marlon Nathaniel Rumph, 36, waived his right to appear for jury selection and his trial; the three-day trial, which ended Thursday, was held without him being present in the courtroom.

Rumph was found guilty of dealing in proceeds of an unlawful activity with intent to promote unlawful activity; conspiracy-manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver; manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver; and criminal use of a communication facility.

The charges were filed against Rumph after he and another Erie man, Keven James Sparks, 30, were arrested following a traffic stop in November 2014 in Franklin.

Rumph, who was the passenger in the vehicle, supplied Venango County dealers with 500 grams of heroin in both October and November 2014, according to court documents filed by Franklin city police. The street value of the drugs was estimated to be about $10,000, according to a criminal complaint. Rumph made the arrangements to give the drugs to the dealers and return to collect the money, according to the criminal complaint.

The traffic stop was part of an ongoing investigation into heroin sales in Venango County, according to the court papers.

Online court dockets indicate Rumph wasn’t present Monday for the scheduled start of the trial, and the court then determined he decided to waive his appearance and the trial would go on without him.

A pre-sentence investigation for Rumph was ordered, and sentencing is scheduled Jan. 8.

District attorney Shawn White prosecuted the case, and Wayne H. Hundertmark had been Rumph’s attorney.

Sparks pleaded guilty in June to three charges in connection with the case – possession of marijuana, use-possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license.

He was sentenced in September to serve three to six months in the Venango County jail on the driving without a license charge (credit for 43 days already served), then placed on 12 months probation after the jail term on the use-possession charge.

Sparks was also ordered to pay court costs and fines.