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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pittsburgh Man Facing Multiple Charges after Attempting to Extort an Undercover FBI Task Force Officer as part of a Kidnapping Hoax

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh and charged with violations of the federal robbery, extortion, firearms and narcotics laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

The six-count Indictment, returned on March 12, named Kevin Harris, 37, as the defendant. Harris was initially charged by criminal complaint on December 21, 2018. Prior to indictment, on March 11, 2019, a Magistrate Judge conducted a detention hearing on the charges listed in the complaint, and ordered Harris detained pending trial.

According to the Indictment, from in and around September 1, 2017 to September 18, 2018, Harris conspired to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute marijuana. Also on September 18, 2018, Harris is charged with committing Attempted Hobbs Act Extortion, Hobbs Act Robbery, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and/or a drug trafficking crime, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and/or a drug trafficking crime.

According to information presented in the complaint and at the detention hearing, the charges in the indictment relate to Harris’ attempt to extort an undercover FBI Task Force Officer as part of a kidnapping hoax.

The law provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 17 years in prison up to life, 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, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Timothy M. Lanni is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation – Western District of Pennsylvania Opioid Task Force conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case. This Task Force is comprised of FBI Special Agents and state and local Task Force Officers, including officers from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Sherriff’s Department, Allegheny County Police, Port Authority Police, Munhall Police Department, Stowe-Rox Police Department, and Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated March 13, 2019