California Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Possession of Cocaine
PITTSBURGH, PA -- A resident of Covina, California, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of violating federal narcotic laws, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.
Kenneth Kim Parks, age 60, pleaded guilty to one count of attempt to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine before United States District Judge W. Scott Hardy.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on March 19, 2021, the United States Postal Service executed a federal search warrant on a parcel sent from Puerto Rico after a drug K-9 alerted to the presence of a controlled substance. A Pennsylvania State Police laboratory confirmed that the parcel contained over 500 grams of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance. Subsequently, law enforcement replaced the cocaine with sham, a substance designed to look like cocaine. Law enforcement then prepared for a controlled delivery operation at the residence where the parcel was to be delivered in Troy Hill, Pennsylvania.
Prior to the controlled delivery, law enforcement placed physical surveillance at the Troy Hill residence. Surveillance observed Kenneth Kim Parks, a resident of California, exit his rental vehicle, knock on the door of the residence, and interact with his cellular phone. After no one answered, Parks returned to his vehicle, which was parked in front of the residence.
Thereafter, an undercover postal inspector executed the controlled delivery of the parcel, leaving the parcel on the porch of the residence. Immediately after the undercover departed, Parks exited his vehicle, retrieved the parcel, and returned to his vehicle. Surveillance observed Parks place the parcel behind the driver’s seat. Law enforcement then converged on Parks. Upon seeing law enforcement, Parks stated, “I did nothing wrong, just take me to jail.” The unopened parcel was located behind Parks, and he had three cellular phones on the center console. A phone contained texts with an individual from Puerto Rico, from where the parcel was sent. One of the texts notified Parks of the address where the controlled delivery operation occurred.
Judge Hardy scheduled sentencing for May 25, 2023, at 9:30 am. The law provides for a term of imprisonment not more than 20 years, a fine of $1,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court continued Parks on bond.
Assistant United States Attorney Brendan J. McKenna is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Parks.