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Repeat felon receives decades in state prison

A Columbus, Pa. man faces nearly 20 years in state prison in the wake of a litany of charges including operating a methamphetamine lab.

Daniel W. Heidler, 36, was sentenced by Judge Gregory Hammond on Friday morning.

His attorney, Jeffrey Wineberg, asked for a sentence in the low range of the guidelines. He said this is a “significant sentence” which brings a “significant amount of time for this young man to serve.”

Heidler said he accepted full responsibility for his actions.

“I can’t imagine a greater threat to the community,” Hammond said, than a repeat felon operating a meth lab and possessing a firearm.

He said this is Heidler’s second conviction for operating a methamphetamine lab.

Online court records show the first was in 2017 in Erie County.

“These are serious offenses,” Hammond said.

The most serious charges to which he pleaded include persons not to possess firearms, operating a methamphetamine lab and fleeing or eluding police in addition to a host of other offenses.

Heidler was listed as the victim of a June 27, 2020, attempted homicide in Columbus Township.

A Corry man was originally charged with attempted homicide after witnesses, including Heidler, told police the man fired a gun at Heidler several times. Video evidence contradicted testimony presented by witnesses and that charge was withdrawn as a result.

Further investigation revealed that Heidler had a .22-caliber rifle at the time of the June 27 incident, police said. That 2017 conviction makes it illegal for him to own or possess a firearm.

Police attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Heidler on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 in Freehold Township.

Troopers saw Heidler driving and a pursuit ensued with Heidler driving across the state line into New York, crashing the vehicle, and fleeing on foot.

Police from multiple agencies in both states, including K-9 units, conducted an unsuccessful search for Heidler. He ultimately turned himself in.

State police returned to the residence in Freehold Township.

“A search warrant was prepared and executed on a residence/camper in Freehold Township, where it was believed that the gun (was) being stored,” police said in the release. “During the search, the firearm Heidler possessed during the initial attempted homicide investigation was located.”

They found more.

“During the execution of the search warrant, troopers found items in the residence/camper on the property which are associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine,” police said. “A separate search warrant was prepared and executed for the residence/camper.”

The Clandestine Laboratory Response Team (CLRT) was called.

“CLRT West responded to the property and seized … (various) paraphernalia associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine,” police said.

Hammond sentenced Heidler on Friday to 84 to 168 months incarceration with credit for 439 days time served, $625 in fines and fees, submission of a DNA sample and to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and comply with recommendations on a count of possession of firearm prohibited.

That was followed by six to 12 months on a count of false reports, 35 to 70 months and a $100 fee on a count of operating a methamphetamine lab, 12 to 24 months and a $100 fee on a count of possession of a controlled substance, 40 to 80 months on a count of receiving stolen property and 27-54 months on another count of receiving stolen property.

At a second docket, he was sentenced to 24 to 48 months incarceration and $125 in fees on a count of fleeing or attempting to elude officers, $245 and a 12 month license suspension on a driving license violation, $70 each on charges of fail to keep right, duties at stop sign and driving at safe speed as well as $245 on a count of reckless driving.

Hammond said the aggregate minimum sentence is 228 months – 19 years – with a maximum possible limit of 456 months or 38 years.

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