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Justice News

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Luzerne County Woman Pleads Guilty To Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

SCRANTON—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Luzerne County woman pleaded guilty today before Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley in Scranton, to participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy that operated in Luzerne County during February through October 2014.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the defendant, Brandy Carey Malinowsky, age 40, admitted to conspiring with others to distribute heroin to customers in the Luzerne County area. The defendant acknowledged being involved in distributing more than 100 grams of heroin as part of the conspiracy, the equivalent of more than 3,300 retail bags.

Milinowsky was indicted by a federal grand jury in Scranton in February 2016, as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Kingston and Plymouth Police Departments, and the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.

The indictment charged six additional people with participating in a larger conspiracy headed-up by Desmond Mercer. Mercer, who was charged in a previous indictment, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Mercer’s co-defendants Shaliek Stroman, of Wilkes-Barre, and Shaquan Murphy, of New Jersey, were both sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

Judge Munley ordered a presentence investigation to be completed, and scheduled sentencing for November 29, 2016. The charge to which the defendant pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, and a potential maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the case.

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.

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 is 40 years in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. 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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Drug Trafficking
Updated August 23, 2016