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Press Release

McKeesport Felon Pleads Guilty to Violating Federal Drug and Gun Laws

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

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A former resident of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, being a convicted felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Thomas Thornton, 42, pleaded guilty to four counts before Senior United States District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose. Judge Ambrose scheduled sentencing for April 2, 2019.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that the FBI received information that Thomas Thornton conspired to distribute drugs with another individual, and that he was also purchasing fentanyl and had several guns. Agents executed a search warrant at Thornton’s McKeesport residence on May 22, 2018. Agents recovered: a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, with a loaded magazine; a .45 caliber handgun, with a loaded magazine; a holster; ammunition; two Airsoft vests; heroin; cocaine; scales and other materials indicative of drug sales; a case of cough syrup; two cellphones; and indicia of residency for Thornton and his co-conspirator.

Thornton admitted to selling drugs after being fired from a good paying job. He admitted that he initially purchased marijuana from a source in California. He later started purchasing cough syrup from Texas after realizing it would be easier for him to sell bottles of cough syrup for a profit. Thornton also admitted that he has purchased heroin, cocaine and ecstasy pills from Texas. Thornton admitted to receiving the 9mm firearm in exchange for 50 stamp bags of heroin.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than five years and up to life in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, 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 of the defendant. Judge Ambrose ordered the defendant to remain detained pending sentencing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Western Pennsylvania Opioid Task Force conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

Assistant United States Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

Updated November 29, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses