A jury of four men and eight women took one hour and two minutes to find Khalid Ibn Abdullah Kareem, 29, guilty of possession with intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia possession, possession of marijuana and conspiracy.
Kareem, also known as rapper S. Money, is facing a minimum of four years in prison because of his prior convictions, according to Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, who prosecuted the case.
"It went as well as we expected, although there are always surprises at trial," she said.
In the two-day trial, the jury heard the testimony of two prosecution witnesses. The defense did not call any witnesses.
Retired police Sgt. Anthony DeLuca, who testified at the trial, wrote in a court document that Kareem, along with Dorian Jermine McKinley, 27, Charles Dwayne Coleman, 29, and Jarrell Raymond Saunders, 27, were stopped at milepost 123.4 on Nov. 14, 2008, for riding in a car with extremely dark window tinting. DeLuca said that he noticed a large number of air fresheners in the vehicle, and the occupants appeared nervous. After completing background checks, he called a K-9 unit to search the vehicle.
Police found 2,000 stamp bags of heroin in a yellow bag in the vehicle's rear jack compartment, according to court documents.
Kareem's three codefendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit possession with the intent to deliver. Coleman was sentenced to 18 months to five years in prison on Dec. 30, 2010. Saunders was sentenced to 12 months to three years in prison on July 1, 2011. McKinley was sentenced to three years supervised probation on June 23, 2010.
"This is one of the oldest open cases, other than cases involving warrants, in this office," Lazzari-Strasiser said. "It takes a lot of resources and team effort to carry a case to jury. We are happy with the verdict," she said.
In his opening statement on the first day of trial, Kareem's attorney Paul Gettleman of Pittsburgh, argued that the presence of drugs in the vehicle did not mean that Kareem had anything to do with them — or even was present when the drugs were placed in the vehicle. He was just getting a ride from a friend after he was stranded in New Jersey, Gettleman told the jury.
"The commonwealth has no way of knowing what took place. They don't know what happened from A to Z," he said.
The prosecution called a fingerprint expert as a witness. Prior to the witness' testimony, Gettleman told the jury that two of Kareem's fingerprints were found on an outer part of two bags that surrounded a third bag — with the drugs in it. The bag was from a drugstore. Kareem admitted that it was his. Gettleman told the jury that Kareem did not know that the illegal drugs were placed inside of his bag.
Kareem is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 5.