Leader of Large-Scale Cambria County Drug Distribution Organization Pleads Guilty
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - A resident of Carrolltown, Pa., pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
George M. Lowmaster, 43, pleaded guilty to four counts before United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that from Sept. 30, 2010, to May 9, 2011, Lowmaster conspired to manufacture and distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants. From March 2008, to May 9, 2011, he conspired to commit money laundering to hide the proceeds from the sale of his organization's drug distribution. Also, on July 23, 2008, and Aug. 21, 2010, he distributed less than 500 grams of cocaine on each occasion.
Following today's plea, U.S. Attorney Hickton said, "Almost two years ago, Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan and I announced the Indictment of George Lowmaster and a number of other individuals. As you recall, Mr. Lowmaster led the largest and most extensive drug distribution organization ever dismantled in the Johnstown area.
"Today, I am pleased to announce the guilty plea of George Lowmaster. Mr. Lowmaster's plea brings to completion what has been a comprehensive and lengthy prosecution. Twenty-five other individuals have also pleaded guilty for their participation in Mr. Lowmaster’s organization.
"I want to commend the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation for their cooperation, hard work and dedication. Even more, their efforts demonstrate the success that can be achieved when we work together. I pledge to continue to devote all available office resources to address the problems facing the Johnstown community."
Judge Gibson scheduled sentencing for Feb. 19, 2014, at 10 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of twenty years to life in prison, a fine of $24,500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney John J. Valkovci, Jr., is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
A joint task force, headed by the Laurel Highlands Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of George Lowmaster. Other agencies participating on the task force include the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Pennsylvania State Police; the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office; the Cambria County District Attorney's Office; the Carrolltown Police Department; the Patton Police Department; the Ebensburg Police Department; the Portage Police Department and the Paint Township Police Department.
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