Former Pittsburgh Resident Pleads Guilty in GBK Cocaine Trafficking Ring
PITTSBURGH - A resident of North Carolina pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to distribute a quantity of cocaine, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Joelle Hollis, 31, formerly of Pittsburgh, PA, pleaded guilty to one count before Senior United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration initiated a wiretap investigation, primarily targeting the Greenway Boy Killas (GBK) street gang and drug trafficking in and around an area known as the Greenway Projects, located in the West End of the City of Pittsburgh. The wiretap investigation revealed that from in and around November 2017 through in and around June 2018, Joelle Hollis conspired with others to distribute cocaine. Hollis’s involvement in the conspiracy included sharing, with members of the conspiracy, sensitive law enforcement information which Hollis obtained from her friend, Erica Romanowski, who by virtue of her employment with the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, had access to such information, including information related to ongoing federal investigations.
Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for October 29, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. The law provides for a maximum 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.
Pending sentencing, the court continued the defendant’s bond.
Assistant United States Attorneys Tonya Sulia Goodman and Yvonne Saadi are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration jointly led the multi-agency investigation, which also included the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, Robinson Township Police Department, Stowe Township Police Department, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Wilkinsburg Borough Police Department, and the McKees Rocks Police Department, that led to the prosecution of Joelle Hollis.
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.