Pittsburgh man gets 10 years for conspiring to sell cocaine from his convenience store

A convenience store owner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday for conspiring to sell cocaine out of his market.a close up of a device: A convenience store owner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday for conspiring to sell cocaine out of his market. This is a stock image of a judge's gavel and balance scale.

According to a Justice Department press release, Senior United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab, who imposed the sentence said Tuesday that the sentence was “sufficient but not greater than necessary to comply with the goals of sentencing.”

Prosecutors built their case around the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration wiretaps and surveillance footage that revealed Woogie’s Market, located on Chartiers Avenue near the Greenway Projects in the West End of Pittsburgh, as a supplier point of a drug operation.

Agents tapped two cell phones that were used by Harris and attached a surveillance camera to a pole outside of Woogie’s.

In a sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Goodman cited Harris’ prior record, which in addition to a previous federal conviction including a prior 10-year prison sentence for selling drugs, also listed several more minor convictions.

Goodman also mentioned that Harris’ prior convictions and 10-year jail sentence obviously hadn’t worked as a deterrent since after being released from prison, he had gone back to dealing. Goodman then noted that while under court supervision Harris had returned positive drug tests multiple times.

Still, as part of a plea agreement, Harris was given the minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with no monetary fine, which can be up to $8 million in this case.

Steven Townsend, a lawyer for the convicted, said that Harris’ circumstances in life should be taken into account during sentencing. “Mr. Harris extremely regrets his criminal past and now at age 42 he is committed to turning his life around upon release,” Mr. Townsend said.

Another defendant who was connected to the case, Monta Banks, was convicted of selling cocaine, crack and heroin in Pittsburgh’s West End neighborhoods and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In addition to the FBI, DEA and local law enforcement branches, the investigation was funded by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program.

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