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Press Release

Mercer County Felon Illegally Possessed Multiple Drugs, a Firearm and Ammunition

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

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former Mercer County resident pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal narcotics and firearms laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Marvin Lee Houze, Jr., 24, of Sharon, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to three counts before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Houze possessed with the intent to distribute approximately 75 grams of a mixture and substance containing tramadol, fentanyl, heroin, acetyl fentanyl, and carfentanil; approximately 30 grams of a mixture and substance containing fentanyl and heroin; and approximately 30 grams of crack cocaine. In addition, Houze, a convicted felon, was in possession of a Smith & Wesson pistol, Model SD 40 VE and ammunition. Houze has felony convictions for firearms offenses in Ohio. As a convicted felon, Houze is prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.

"The prosecution of Marvin Houze, Jr. is a direct result of our partnership with the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office, led by DA Peter Acker, and our Project Guardian strategy. Project Guardian is a partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement to prosecute and remove the most violent offenders from our communities," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "Houze, a two-time felon, was trafficking in fentanyl and cocaine, and illegally possessed a firearm and ammunition. I commend the work of District Attorney Peter Acker and the County’s Drug Task Force to make Mercer County a safer community."

"The Office of the District Attorney of Mercer County is extremely grateful to U.S. Attorney Scott Brady and his staff for assuming prosecutorial responsibility of this case and obtaining the conviction," said Mercer County District Attorney Peter C. Acker. "We are also grateful to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Region 6 Narcotics Strike Force, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Mercer County Critical Incident Response Team and the Mercer County Drug Task Force in coordinating and executing the search warrant. The operation struck a blow to the interstate movement of narcotics into Mercer County."

Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for August 12, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. The law provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of not less than five years in prison to a maximum of 40 years, and a fine of up to $5,000,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses, and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Nicole Vasquez Schmitt is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, and the Mercer County Drug Task Force conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case.

This case was brought as part of Project Guardian, the Attorney General’s initiative to prosecute those who violate the federal firearms laws. Reducing gun violence has always been among the Department of Justice’s highest priorities. Project Guardian serves as a complementary effort to the success of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).

This case also was prosecuted as part of Operation S.O.S. (Synthetic Opioid Surge), a DOJ enforcement initiative designed to dismantle deadly fentanyl distribution networks through cooperation with local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as local and state prosecutors. The Western District of Pennsylvania is one of 10 districts from across the country to implement the S.O.S. program.

Updated March 12, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods