Two Plead Guilty in Interstate Drug Ring Operating Jefferson County
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - A resident of Hiawatha, Iowa and a resident of Kersey, Pa., pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of violating federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Joshua Shaffer, 35, of Hiawatha, Iowa, and Joe Cesa, 26, of Kersey, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that between February 2010 and September 2011, a conspiracy to distribute 10,000 oxycodone tablets and two pounds of methamphetamine existed in Jefferson County in Northwestern Pennsylvania and surrounding counties. Shaffer was the source-of-supply for the conspiracy, sending methamphetamine and oxycodone to Pennsylvania from his Florida home, utilizing couriers traveling by car and mailed packages.
Shaffer generally sold the oxycodone tablets for up to $25 each, and the methamphetamine wholesaled for $5600 an ounce. The pills would then be sold to drug addicts for $35 or $40 apiece, and the methamphetamine would be packaged for individual use and sold. The retail, or "street" value for the drugs Shaffer brought to Pennsylvania exceeded $500,000. Oxycodone is a highly-addictive narcotic drug that is frequently abused in Western Pennsylvania.
Cesa was a street seller of oxycodone provided to him by Shaffer or one of the other seven co-defendants. Seven of the nine defendants charged in the indictment have now pleaded guilty, with the two remaining defendants scheduled to go to trial in November.
Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for Dec. 13, 2013 at 10:30 a.m for Cesa, and at 11 a.m. for Shaffer. The law provides for a total sentence of up to 20 years in. prison and a fine not to exceed $1,000,000 for Cesa, and not less than 10 years and up to life in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000,000 for Shaffer. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory J. Nescott is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Joshua Shaffer and Joe Cesa. The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office also assisted in a related investigation targeting other oxycodone distributors.