When 44 people were arrested in May 2014 as part of an alleged cocaine trafficking ring in East Marlbourogh Township, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan told CBS Philly it was “the biggest drug bust in county history.” More than two years later, WPVI-TV reported on June 16 that the alleged leader of a drug ring was sentenced to 332 to 664 months in prison.
The Daily Local News reported that the alleged leader is 67 years old and suffers from age-related infirmities. Authorities alleged that he “operated a drug trafficking organization that stretched from the Philadelphia suburbs to others states and ultimately into Mexico” for at least 20 years.
“If you were a younger man I would give you a longer sentence,” Common Pleas Judge James P. MacElree II said, according to the News. “This gives you the possibility that you might be paroled before the end of your life.”
The News reported that the alleged leader addressed the judge, “saying that he regretted his decision to sell cocaine, but saying that he had lost his job as a landscaper at the former Robert Montgomery Nursery and that he could not compete with other large landscaping companies.” He pleaded guilty in March to 25 counts of possession with intent to deliver, one count of criminal conspiracy, and one count of corruption organizations.
The alleged leader’s son was found guilty in April of more than 100 counts of drug dealing and other crimes, but has not been sentenced yet. His wife and daughter also pleaded guilty to helping in the drug operation and were sentenced to prison, according to the News.
Fox News Latino reported that the alleged drug leader in this case originally faced more than 600 conspiracy, possession, and drug-delivery charges. Assistant District Attorney Kevin Pierce told the Daily Local News that his office had offered the man a plea agreement sentence of 30 to 60 years, but he rejected.
Drug Crime Penalties in West Chester, PA
Possession with intent to deliver is a felony offense in Pennsylvania, and alleged offenders can face penalties that include up to 10 years in prison and/or fines of up to $100,000 if convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver. A person who is facing multiple counts of this crime (as the alleged drug leader in the case above was) could potentially be sentenced to life in prison.
Criminal conspiracy charges are very common in cases of alleged drug-dealing because prosecutors can charge people with these crimes regardless of how small or insignificant their roles actually were. A person who plays any part in an alleged violation of Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act could be charged with conspiracy.
Conspiracy charges are typically filed in an effort to get alleged offenders to testify against the supposed leaders of alleged drug rings. People accused of these crimes face the same penalties as the leaders of the conspiracies, so plea agreements for reduced sentences are especially common.
It is critical for anybody facing conspiracy charges relating to an alleged drug crime to contact a West Chester criminal defense lawyer before entering into any plea negotiations with a prosecutor. Alleged offenders in these cases often have many additional concerns about providing testimony against others, and prosecutors may back out of deals they proposed if they deem the information provided by an alleged offender as being inadequate.