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Justice News

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Court Of Appeals Affirms 14-Year And 12 ½ -Year Prison Sentences For Two Luzerne County Heroin Dealers

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed a 14-year prison sentence and a 12 ½-year prison sentence imposed by Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley on two Luzerne County men who participated in a heroin trafficking conspiracy during 2014.


According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the Court of Appeals affirmed Desmond Mercer’s 14-year prison sentence and Shaliek Stroman’s 12 ½-year prison sentence as being both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Mercer was sentenced in March 2016, and Stroman was sentenced in January 2016.


Mercer previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with Stroman and others from Luzerne County, New Jersey, and Alabama, to distribute heroin to customers in the Luzerne County area. Mercer in his plea acknowledged distributing more than 700 grams of heroin (which equals approximately 23,000 retail bags of heroin) and playing a leadership role in the conspiracy. During part of the conspiracy, Mercer ran the drug operation while an inmate at the Luzerne County Prison.


Stroman, a sub-distributor of heroin for Mercer, also previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge.


In separate opinions upholding the sentences, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reasoned that Judge Munley appropriately considered the respective advisory sentencing guideline ranges, the presentence reports, and the relevant sentencing factors under federal law.


The cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Kingston Police. Assistant United States Attorney Francis P. Sempa prosecuted the cases and handled the appeals.


The cases were brought as part of a district wide initiative to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Heroin Initiative targets heroin traffickers operating in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and is part of a coordinated effort among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who commit heroin related offenses.



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Drug Trafficking
Updated February 1, 2017