News and Press Releases

Arizona Man Pleads Guilty In Cocaine Trafficking Scheme

April 6, 2010

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Acting United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar announced today, April 6, 2010, that William James Peterson, a resident of Arizona, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal narcotics laws by conspiring with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

Peterson, age 55, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Gustave Diamond.

In connection with the guilty plea, Assistant United States Attorney Margaret E. Picking advised the court that Peterson a former Uniontown area resident, negotiated a sale of cocaine in the Pittsburgh area from his current residence in Arizona. Originally, the transaction was to involve five (5) kilograms of cocaine, but later the amount to be exchanged was revised to one kilogram of cocaine for $35,000.  Peterson traveled to Pittsburgh from Arizona for the transaction and was arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police traveling in a car with three companions from Arizona, one of whom was a juvenile.  One kilogram of cocaine was found in the trunk of the car and a firearm was found in luggage in the back seat.

Judge Diamond scheduled sentencing for August 4, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.  The law provides for a total sentence of 40 years in prison, including a mandatory of five (5) years, a fine of $2,000,000, or both.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense(s) and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued Peterson' detention.

The Pennsylvania State Police, Troop B Vice in Washington County, assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of William James Peterson.

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