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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Delaware County Convicted Murderer, Opioid Dealer, and Armed Robber Sentenced to Life in Prison

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that his office secured a life sentence today in a case involving a Delaware County man convicted of murder through the use of a firearm and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.  Michael Vandergrift, 31, of Chester, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerald J. Pappert to a life sentence for murder, and an additional 240 months for the drug conspiracy conviction.  In December 2017, Vandergrift and Anthony Vetri, 30, of Essington, were convicted after trial of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone from 2008 until June 4, 2013. During the conspiracy, Vetri illegally obtained large sums of oxycodone from a registered pharmacist, Mitesh Patel, who owned and operated three pharmacies in the greater Philadelphia area. Vetri then supplied Vandergrift with oxycodone, and both distributed the drugs throughout Delaware and Philadelphia Counties. During the course of the conspiracy, over 400,000 oxycodone tablets were distributed by Vetri, Vandergrift, and the other conspirators, earning over a million dollars in drug proceeds.  

During the drug conspiracy, Patel illegally provided oxycodone to others, including his business partner, Gbolahan Olabode. Beginning in the fall of 2011, Vetri and Vandergrift conspired to eliminate Olabode as a competitor to boost Vetri and Vandergrift’s oxycodone supply from Patel. Vetri and Vandergrift ultimately decided to murder Olabode, and Vandergrift recruited Michael Mangold and Allen Carter to assist. On January 4, 2012, Vandergrift, Mangold, and Carter went to Olabode’s residence in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania and waited for Olabode to return home. When Olabode returned, Vandergrift and Mangold each used a firearm to fire 27 shots at Olabode as he carried groceries into his home. The assailants struck the victim 13 times in his head and body, killing him. 

Patel, Mangold, and Carter all previously pled guilty to charges for their respective involvement in drug distribution, the murder of Olabode, and other offenses.  In earlier proceedings, Judge Pappert sentenced Patel to a term of 15 years imprisonment, Mangold to a term of 35 years imprisonment, and Vetri received a life sentence.  Carter is awaiting sentencing.

Today, Vandergrift was also sentenced for his involvement in a separate crime.  On April 9, 2018, Vandergrift pled guilty to committing an armed robbery of a suspected drug dealer, “R.D.”  In that incident, Vandergift lured R.D. to a home in Philadelphia with a promise of a lucrative drug transaction.  Once inside the residence, R.D. was struck in the head with a firearm and held at gun point as he was robbed by Vandergrift and others of approximately $20,000.  As R.D. was being led away from the scene of the robbery, he fired a concealed firearm in the direction of his robbers.  No one was struck by R.D.’s shots.  Vandergrift’s robbery conspirators and R.D. were convicted and sentenced in earlier proceedings.

“The defendant is a danger to the community in every sense of the word,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Drug trafficking is dangerous and violent, and there is no doubt that the defendant’s victims continue to struggle with opioid addiction because of his crimes. Not only did Vandergrift flood the streets with illegal drugs, but also he murdered one drug rival in cold blood and held up another in an armed robbery. We are all safer with the defendant spending the rest of his life behind bars.”

"Michael Vandergrift and his buddies were prolific pill-pushers, cashing in on our area's opioid crisis," said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. "To maximize their profits, they moved to minimize their competition--ambushing and brutally murdering a drug rival. There were 27 shots fired, 13 that hit, and just one motive: sheer greed."

The cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Lansdowne Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan B. Ortiz and David. E. Troyer are prosecuting the case.

Updated August 30, 2018