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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 18, 2022

Former Pittsburgh Resident Pleads Guilty and Is Sentenced to 12 Years’ Imprisonment for Narcotics Offense and Bribery of a Corrections Officer While Detained at the Indiana County Jail

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court on charges of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy, and bribery of a public official, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon sentenced Rashon Richardson, 31, to a total of 144 months of imprisonment—including 120 months for the narcotics offense and an additional 24 months for the conspiracy and bribery offenses—followed by 36 months of supervised release.

During his plea and sentencing hearing, Richardson admitted that on Nov. 2, 2015, he possessed distribution-level quantities of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and heroin. Richardson also acknowledged that he unlawfully possessed a loaded 9mm Ruger pistol despite being prohibited from doing so as a result of other prior felony convictions. After the United States brought charges against Richardson for the November 2015 conduct, he was detained and held at the Indiana County Jail (ICJ) pursuant to a contract between ICJ and the United States Marshals Service. Between June and August 2019, while Richardson was being held at ICJ, he paid multiple bribes to Alex Lewis, a then-corrections officer at ICJ, so that Lewis would smuggle contraband cellphones into ICJ. As part of the bribery conspiracy, Richardson admitted that he used an intermediary outside ICJ to meet Lewis and pay bribes on his behalf in the form of cash and, on one occasion, a $400 payment to Lewis’s Cash App account. Richardson admitted that he and other federal detainees used the smuggled cellphones to make unmonitored calls from inside ICJ.

Lewis previously was sentenced on Nov. 10, 2021, to 24 months’ imprisonment following his guilty plea to conspiracy and bribery charges.

Assistant United States Attorneys Eric G. Olshan and Nicole Vasquez Schmitt prosecuted these cases on behalf of the government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police conducted the investigation leading to Richardson’s original charges. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the bribery-related charges, with valuable assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police and Indiana County Jail.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated February 18, 2022