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Press Release

Luzerne County Woman Guilty Of Participating In Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

SCRANTON—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced today that Brianna Rattigan, age 24, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on August 22, 2017, before Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley, to conspiring with others to distribute heroin in Luzerne County during February through November 2014.


According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Rattigan admitted to allowing co-conspirators to store heroin at her residence, and at times she distributed heroin to customers. Rattigan admitted to storing and distributing between 100 and 400 grams of heroin, which is approximately equivalent to between 4,000 and 16,000 retail bags of heroin.


Desmond Mercer, the leader of the drug conspiracy, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Shaliek Stroman and Shaquan Murphy, two key associates of Mercer, were each sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for their roles in the conspiracy. Another member of the drug ring, Antuan Jamison, was sentenced to five years in prison.


Rattigan was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2016, as a result of an investigation by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, and Kingston Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the case.


Judge Munley ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be completed, and scheduled Rattigan’s sentencing for December 5, 2017.


This case was 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.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.


The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is 40 years in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. There is also a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.




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Updated August 23, 2017

Drug Trafficking