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Press Release

Former Penn Hills Resident Pleads Guilty to Narcotics Trafficking

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

PITTSBURGH, PA- A former resident of Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of narcotics trafficking, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Joseph McCoullum, aka Steele, 36, pleaded guilty to one count possession with intent to distribute heroin before United States District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in May of 2018, the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Task Force (WPAOTF) identified McCoullum as a heroin dealer operating in the Penn Hills and Shaler areas. On May 10, 2018, with the assistance of the Sharpsburg, Etna, Hampton, and Shaler police departments, WPAOTF conducted a consent search at a residence where the defendant had been observed by law enforcement spending a significant amount of time. McCoullum was found inside the residence, and upon searching his person, law enforcement seized four bricks and two bundles of suspected heroin.

Judge Ranjan scheduled sentencing for April 6, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. McCoullum remains under detention pending the sentencing hearing.

Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution of McCoullum with the assistance of the Sharpsburg, Etna, Hampton, and Shaler police departments.

Updated December 4, 2019

Drug Trafficking