CHESTER >> A Marcus Hook man — described 18 years ago at his sentencing by a county judge for his role in an armed holdup of an undercover police officer as a “very dangerous young man” — had a loaded gun, drugs and a police scanner in his vehicle, and more drugs in his crotch, when he was stopped for a broken brake light in a high-crime neighborhood in the city last week, according to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest.
Gregory Lamont Cottman, 37, of Spruce Street in Marcus Hook and formerly of Tilghman Street in Chester, has been incarcerated at the county prison since his July 27 arrest. Charged with possession of a firearm prohibited, possession of a firearm with the manufacturer number altered, possession of a controlled substance, possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver, possession or use of drug paraphernalia and no rear lights, he is being held in lieu of posting bail, which was set at 10 percent of $200,000, according to online court records. A preliminary hearing is listed for Aug. 14 before Magisterial District Judge Dawn Vann.
It was not immediately known if Cottman had retained an attorney on the latest offenses.
“Those in the neighborhood have been complaining about him (by name) for quite some time,” city Police Chief James Nolan IV said Monday in announcing Cottman’s recent arrest.
“He is a dangerous criminal, absolutely,” Nolan said, noting the defendant’s criminal history.
According to the affidavit, members of the Chester Police Department Narcotics Unit were conducting saturation police patrols in upper East End of the city, specifically the surrounding blocks between 20th and 24th streets, from Edgmont to Providence avenues, about 1 p.m. on July 27.
“This square block area of the city is the source of numerous acts of violence including aggravated assaults and homicides, while numerous firearms and narcotics violations take place almost daily,” states the affidavit, authored by city Officer Timothy Garron. “”While in the area, patrol received a call via police radio that there was a group of individuals around 21st Street that appeared to be engaged in disorderly activity, during which time the Narcotics Division was en route to assist.”
While he was pulling into an alley between the 200 block of East 21st and East 22nd streets, Garron noticed a grey GMC Yukon turning south onto Upland Street.
“This specific alley is where narcotics trafficking is a daily problem, while the Narcotics Division has recently received anonymous complaints of open air drug dealing,” the affidavit states.
According to the affidavit, the Yukon was followed from the area, at which time Garron noticed that the top center brake light was not operable. Due to traffic, Garron was unable to position his unmarked vehicle behind the Yukon. He requested Officer Francis Myers to stop the vehicle for the traffic violation, the affidavit states.
While Myers activated his lights and siren in the first block of East Ninth Street, the Yukon did not stop until it was in front of Chester High School in the 200 block of East Ninth Street.
At this point, Garron was at the scene and assisting Myers with the stop. Cottman was identified was the driver and the lone occupant of the vehicle, the affidavit states.
“After Officer Myers advised Cottman the reason for the stop, I immediately took notice to Cottman’s extremely nervous demeanor which was evident through profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat and failure to respond to normal questions,” Garron wrote in the affidavit. “Also readily apparent was a strong odor of fresh marijuana, which I immediately recognized through my past training and experience as a police officer.”
For those reasons, the affidavit states, Officer Marc Barag repositioned his unmarked patrol vehicle and Cottman was asked to step from his vehicle.
“Cottman was hesitant to do so,” the affidavit states.
“Eventually, Cottman was escorted from the vehicle and patted down for officer safety,” the affidavit states. “After moving Cottman from the vehicle, a search for contraband was conducted.”
Located in what the affidavit described as the natural void beneath the center console, immediately next to and within Cottman’s reach were the following items: A black plastic bag containing a clear, knotted sandwich bag with 14 small clear zip-top bags containing about 5.8 grams of crack cocaine; a clear knotted sandwich bag containing about 4.2 grams of marijuana, a white plastic card containing cocaine residue and a clear sandwich bag containing small, clear new and unused packaging material consistent with the recovered baggies of crack cocaine. Also located was a white shopping bag, which contained small clear zip-top packaging, as well as three clear, knotted sandwich bags of marijuana that weighted about 28.5 grams, 29.7 grams and 4.3 grams, respectively. Behind the shopping bags of narcotics was a silver digital scale, found to contain both marijuana and cocaine residue.
“Finally, a blue Ruger P95 .9mm semi-automatic pistol with an obliterated serial number, containing one round chambered ready to fire and 13 live rounds in the magazine, inside a black IWB (inside the waistband holder) was recovered from underneath the previously recovered narcotics,” the affidavit states. Also removed from the vehicle was an “apple” print bag containing additional packaging materials; two cell phones; a scanner set to the Chester Police Department frequency; as well as a paystub and driver’s license in Cottman’s name, as well as another ID card.
After locating and seizing the various items, Cottman was placed in custody and transported to police headquarters for processing. Cottman’s vehicle was towed.
“During a standard booking/processing procedure, recovered from Cottman’s crotch area was a clear, knotted sandwich bag containing approximately 3.6 grams of cocaine … as well as four small, clear zip-top bags of cocaine, which were identical to the prepackaged cocaine previously recovered from the natural void of the center console of the vehicle,” the affidavit states.
According to the affidavit, $70 from confiscated from Cottman’s shorts pocket, two $20, two $5 and two $10 bills.
Cottman was 19 and a resident of Chester when he was sentenced to 9-1/2 to 40 years in prison for an armed holdup, according to Daily Times archives. While he thought he was ripping off an addict of $800, Cottman and an accomplice soon found out their victim was an undercover cop, and the cash consisted of county funds used for undercover drug buys.
At Cottman’s trial, county Detective James Frey testified he believed he was going to die when Cottman stuck a gun in his ribs. At sentencing, Cottman told Frey he was sorry and that it was a mistake.
In sentencing Cottman, Judge Frank T. Hazel read a litany of prior crimes that defendant had been involved in dating back to 1994 both in juvenile and adult court.
“I consider you to be a very dangerous young man,” Hazel said.
At the time, Hazel read from a pre-sentencing report in which the defendant offered the excuse he sold drugs to support his grandparents. Cottman’s grandmother died of cancer two months before Cottman robbed Frey.
Hazel also pointed out that in a prior report, it stated that Cottman’s grandmother said she watched him deal drugs and he denied it.
Nolan said Monday that Cottman was released from prison in 2010 in connection with that prior conviction.