News and Press Releases

Leader of Interstate Methamphetamine and Oxycodone Ring Sentenced

February 21, 2014

PITTSBURGH - The leader of a drug ring that brought kilograms of methamphetamine and 10,000 narcotic pills into the Western District of Pennsylvania for sale has been sentenced in federal court to 10 years’ incarceration.

United States District Judge Davis S. Cercone imposed the sentence on Joshua Shaffer, 36, of Hiawatha, Iowa.

Judge Cercone also imposed a two-year period of incarceration on co-conspirator Joe Cesa, 26, of Kersey, Pa., and accepted a guilty plea from a third conspirator, Keith Alfred Hayes, 48, of Sykesville, Pa.

According to evidence presented to the Court, between February 2010 and September 2011, a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone tablets and 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 $5,600 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. 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. Hayes drove shipments of drugs from Florida to Pennsylvania at Shaffer’s direction. All nine defendants charged in the indictment have now pleaded guilty.

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for July 11, 2014 at 10:00 am for Hayes. The law provides for a total sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $1,000,000 for Hayes. 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, Joe Cesa, and Keith Hayes. The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office also assisted in a related investigation targeting other oxycodone distributors.

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