By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A Warsaw man will serve 12 years in prison after a traffic stop resulted in the discovery of more than 40 grams of methamphetamine.
Walter Alan Vitalone, Jr., 57, 762 W. Eagle St., Warsaw, was charged with dealing in methamphetamine, a level 2 felony. Possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Vitalone was sentenced in Kosciusko Circuit Court on Monday, June 8.
On March 5, 2019, an Indiana State Police officer received information that a truck missing a tailgate had committed traffic violations on Center Street. The officer pulled the vehicle over and identified the driver as Vitalone. According to court documents, the officer had prior knowledge that Vitalone had been dealing methamphetamine.
A Warsaw Police officer used a K9 to do an outer air search of Vitalone’s vehicle. The K9 made a positive alert and officers found a plastic bag containing 44.6 grams of methamphetamine.
While searching Vitalone’s person, officers found $692 in cash and 10 Walmart gift cards. Vitalone told officers that he had been given the gift cards as payment for methamphetamine. The total balance on the 10 gift cards was $753.55.
Vitalone was convicted of dealing in methamphetamine in 2005; he was convicted of dealing a controlled substance in 2008. He also has two pending criminal cases in Kosciusko Superior Court 3 for domestic battery and burglary.
During court proceedings, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Buehler noted Vitalone’s prior dealing convictions and significant criminal history.
“Walter has had a complete turnaround, but everything (Buehler) has said is true,” said Defense Attorney John Barrett. “But he is remorseful and wants to change. He wants the help.”
“I’m an addict and I need help,” said Vitalone. “I’ve never been able to get help.”
Vitalone asked Judge Michael Reed to consider placing him in Recovery While Incarcerated and allow for a sentence modification toward the end of his sentence.
“Help also comes from within,” said Reed. “There’s always people available to help you. But there’s gotta be real change. It’s up to you, it’s always been up to you.”
For dealing in methamphetamine, Reed sentenced Vitalone to 15 years in the Indiana Department of Correction, with the last three years of the sentence suspended on formal probation. The case will be served consecutively to sentences imposed in two misdemeanor cases and two felony cases. In this case, Vitalone has 241 days of jail time credit. Reed also recommended Vitalone complete RWI during his sentence.