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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 21, 2016

46 Southwestern PA Residents Charged in Fayette-County Based Cocaine and Heroin Trafficking Ring

PITTSBURGH – An additional 19 southwestern Pennsylvania residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for violating the federal narcotics laws, bringing to 46 the number of defendants charged with participating in a large-scale cocaine and heroin trafficking organization operating in Fayette and Washington counties. The announcement was made today by federal, state and local law enforcement officials during a news conference at the Pennsylvania State Police Uniontown barracks.

“The 19 defendants charged this week are among a series of indictments we have brought to disrupt and dismantle the cocaine and heroin trafficking networks that have been operating in Fayette and surrounding counties, menacing neighborhoods and threatening the quality of life of the law-abiding citizens who live here,” stated U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to forge a community impact prosecution strategy designed to effect a demonstrable and meaningful reduction in community crime and improve public safety.”

“The arrests yesterday demonstrate, once again, the continued successful partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement in Western Pennsylvania,” said Special Agent in Charge Scott S. Smith of the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office. “The Pittsburgh Division of the FBI remains committed to stopping the flow of illegal drugs and improving the quality of life in the communities we serve. We are grateful to our law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly with us throughout this investigation and who are equally committed to keeping our neighborhoods safe.”

“Our troopers, working alongside with our federal, state, and local partners, have had a significant impact in disrupting the trafficking of illegal drugs in Fayette and the surrounding counties, said Captain David J. Heckman, Director of the Pennsylvania State Police/Drug Law Enforcement Division. “These efforts confirm our obligation to the citizens of Pennsylvania to dismantle the criminal enterprises that have a devastating impact on the quality of life in our communities.”

The two-count indictment, returned on January 19, named:

  • Rodney Harris, 43, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Leslie Blakey, 50, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Gary Bradley, 42, of Arnold, Pa.;
  • David Crews, 40, of Monessen, Pa.;
  • Joseph Croftcheck, 67, of Hopwood, Pa.;
  • Allen Dade; 34, of Brownsville, Pa.;
  • Barry Douglas, 41, of Waynesburg, Pa.;
  • Jamal Eddings, 34, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Kwame Eddings, 35, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • William Fitzgerald, 41, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Gregory Gray, Sr., 53, of Vanderbilt, Pa.;
  • Eugene Grooms, 40, of Brownsville, Pa.;
  • Jermaine High, 42, of Hiller, Pa.;
  • Darnell Howell, 44, formerly of Belle Vernon, Pa.;
  • Terrance Lewis, 42, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Thomas McGhee, 31, of Cardale, Pa.;
  • Wesley Middleton, 37, of Brownsville, Pa.;
  • Kent Ramsey, 42, of Uniontown, Pa.; and
  • Norman Thornton, 61, of Donora, Pa..

According to the indictment, from January 2010, and continuing to around June 2015, Harris, Lewis, and Bradley conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin. The indictment also alleges that Harris and the remaining defendants conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. The indictment seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the crimes, including a combined $1,140,200, as well as three firearms and real estate.

For Harris, Crews, and Middleton, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of $10 million, or both. For Blakey, Croftcheck, Douglas, Fitzgerald, Gray, Sr., Howell, Lewis, Ramsey, and Thornton, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than five years and up to 40 years in prison, a fine of $5 million, or both. For the remaining defendants, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a find of $1 million, or both.

Previously Announced Indictments

On September 16, 2015, a 247-count indictment named Andre Saunders, 35, of Uniontown, Pa., charging him with violating federal narcotics, firearms, and money laundering laws.

According to the indictment, from around January 2010, and continuing to around June 2015, Saunders conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least one kilogram of heroin and at least five kilograms of cocaine. Saunders is also charged with possession with intent to distribute at least one hundred grams of heroin on May 5, 2015. Additionally, on May 5, 2015, Saunders possessed a firearm, although he is prohibited from possessing a firearm due a prior felony drug-trafficking conviction. The indictment seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the crimes as well as property that was acquired with the proceeds and used to commit the crimes, including a combined $682,292.25, two residential properties and a vehicle.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of $10 million, or both.

On December 10, 2015, a seven-count indictment named:

  • William J. Chaffin Jr., 48, of Adah, Pa.;
  • Semori Wilson, 45, formerly of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Domin Guerrero-Guerrero, 32, of Lebanon, Pa.;
  • Dexter Allen, 27, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • George Daube, 59, of Donora, Pa.;
  • Chalfonte Demery, 34, of McKeesport, Pa.;
  • Damien Gibson, 41, of Duquesne, Pa.;
  • Peter Hawkins, 44, of McKeesport, Pa.;
  • Richard Lassic, 41, of Washington, Pa.;
  • Marquis Bailey, 24, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Tomarrio Blackburn, 33, McClellandtown, Pa.;
  • Anitra Dues, 38, of Adah, Pa.;
  • Brandon Harrison, 29, of McClellandtown, Pa.;
  • Mark Johnson, 28, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Keith Thomas, 30, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Herbert Ballard, 50, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and
  • Nygel Saunders, 26, of Uniontown, Pa..

According to the indictment presented to the court, the defendants named above (except for Herbert Ballard and Nygel Saunders) engaged in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute cocaine from June 2015 to November 2015. Individually, William J. Chaffin Jr., Richard Lassic, Herbert Ballard, and Keith Thomas are charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of a quantity of cocaine, while Semori Wilson and Nygel Saunders are charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams or more of cocaine. William J. Chaffin Jr. is also charged with possessing a firearm after a prior felony conviction.

The law provides for a maximum total sentences ranging of not less than five years in prison and up to life in prison, and fines ranging from $250,000 up to $8 million.

On December 16, 2015, a four-count indictment named:

  • Prince Linton, age 41, of Uniontown, PA;
  • Vaughn Gaines, age 44 of Uniontown, PA ;
  • Donald Nicklo, age 40, of Uniontown, PA;
  • Donald Brown, age 44, of Latrobe, PA; and
  • Megan Gall, age 31, of Uniontown, PA.


According to the indictment, the defendants named above (except for Megan Gall) engaged in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute cocaine and heroin from August 2013 through May 2014. Individually, Donald Nicklo and Vaughn Gaines are additionally charged with possessing with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine. Megan Gall is charged with unlawfully using a cellular telephone in committing, causing and facilitating the commission of the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute cocaine and heroin.


The law provides for maximum total sentences ranging from four years in prison and a fine of $250,000, to not less than five years and up to 40 years in prison and a fine of $5 million.

On August 5, 2014, an 11-count indictment named:

  • Kenneth White, 38, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • Harold Jones, 27, of Uniontown, Pa.;
  • George Kiss, 27, of Uniontown, Pa.; and
  • Kendrick Pratt, 35, of Uniontown, Pa.


According to the indictment from around January 2013, and continuing to in and around December 2013, the defendants conspired with one another to possess with intent to distribute and distribute heroin. Harold Jones is charged with eight additional counts of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of less than 100 grams of heroin, and Kenneth White is charged with one count of the same.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or both.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorneys Barbara K. Doolittle and Conor Lamb are prosecuting these cases on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the Pennsylvania State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Fayette County Drug Task Force, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, the Allegheny County Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The investigation was funded by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program (OCDETF). The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic: 
Drug Trafficking
Updated January 21, 2016