PITTSBURGH – A former resident of Rockton, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to violation of federal narcotics laws related to a nine-month Title III wiretap investigation into drug trafficking in and around the counties of Jefferson, Clearfield, and Allegheny, United States Attorney Cindy Chung announced today.
Ryan Schoening, age 32, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possesses with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to distribute and possesses with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine before United States District Judge Christy Criswell Wiegand. Schoening was one of 47 defendants charged in six related indictments as part of the Return to Sender investigation.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Schoening received over ten pounds of methamphetamine from suppliers located in California between July of 2020 and August of 2021, which he distributed to local customers. Schoening also received over ten pounds of methamphetamine that was transported by vehicle from Houston, Texas by an alternate supplier between November of 2020 and April of 2021, which he also distributed to local customers.
Judge Wiegand scheduled sentencing for Schoening on January 10, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. The law provides for a sentence of not less than ten years to a maximum of life in prison, a fine not to exceed $10,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
The court ordered that the defendant remain detained pending sentencing.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan D. Lusty and Michael R. Ball are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Drug Enforcement Administration led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the Homeland Security Investigations, United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Services, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Police, and Pennsylvania State Police. Also assisting were the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Clearfield County District Attorney’s Office, and the Clarion Borough Police Department.
This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.