Fugitive from justice nabbed for having heroin

ALTAMONT — Altamont Police Detective Christopher Laurenzo made a routine traffic stop on Township Road on Aug. 18 and ended up discovering a fugitive from justice and arresting him for having close to eight grams of heroin.

Joshua D. Walrath, 40, of Oviedo, Florida was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of narcotics, a felony.

When Laurenzo talked to The Enterprise last Wednesday about the arrest, Walrath was still being held in Albany County’s jail. Laurenzo said an extradition unit from Florida would fly up to retrieve him once the Altamont arrest was settled in court.

Recalling the summer evening when he made the arrest, Laurenzo said that Walrath was a passenger in the car he stopped. “I was talking to the driver and I asked the passenger for identification. He became very nervous. He would not make eye contact…I asked if there was anything in the vehicle I should know about.

“While running him, I saw there was a full extradition warrant from Florida.”

Laurenzo said he then brought Walrath out of the car to talk about the warrant. Walrath had a book bag with him and said he had marijuana in there. Then, recalled Laurenzo, “He said, ‘It’s not marijuana; it’s heroin.’”

Inside the book bag were 17 packets of heroin, which altogether weighed 7.6 grams, according to court papers.

Laurenzo has a picture of a metal Icebreaker Mints tin — part of a “kit,” he said, for using heroine, which included a soda bottle top as well — that he found in Walrath’s book bag.

Altamont Police Chief Todd Pucci said that Walrath had been in town because of the Altamont Fair. “He was a carny at the beginning of the week, but he had been fired,” said Pucci, who had called Dreamland Amusements, which ran the midway. Pucci said he was told, “He don’t work for us anymore.”

“I made a lot of phone calls to Florida,” said Laurenzo, arranging for the extradition, which is to be handled by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department. It’s the first time Laurenzo has handled an extradition, he said, since most of the warrants he’s handled are for minor, local crimes.

Walrath is wanted in Florida on two felony charges — giving false verification of ownership when conducting a transaction, and grand theft.

“It sounds like he stole a car and then tried to sell it,” surmised Laurenzo.

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