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Press Release

Pittsburgh Man Pleads Guilty to Decades-Long Career of Dealing Cocaine and Laundering Money

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

PITTSBURGH -A Pittsburgh man pleaded guilty in federal court to charges regarding his trafficking of cocaine and money laundering, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Richard Stuart Wright, 76, pleaded guilty to three counts before President United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak.

In connection with the guilty pleas of Wright and his co-defendant, 69-year-old Walter John Amman, III, the court was advised that Wright had been purchasing kilogram level amounts of cocaine each month for over two decades. The defendant would process the cocaine by packaging it in smaller quantities and converting some into crack. In more recent years, co-defendant Walter Amman would help the defendant with the processing, packaging and distribution of the cocaine. Two controlled purchases of cocaine were made from Amman, helping the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Branch, Homeland Security Investigations and Pittsburgh Police obtain search warrants for locations attributable to Amman and Wright. The January 11, 2017 searches resulted in law enforcement locating items which included:

- In the defendant’s residence: cocaine prepackaged for sale and color-coded for size; multiple firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition; large amounts of cash; multiple vehicles registered to Amman and his family;

- In the defendant’s garage: amounts of powder cocaine; numerous inositol bottles and material to convert cocaine into crack; large amounts of cash; three pistols (including one registered to Amman); and a safe imbedded into the concrete floor; and

- At Amman’s residence: firearms; prepackaged amounts of crack and cocaine in a jacket with Amman’s name on it; keys to a truck (in the jacket); in the truck was approximately $1,000 and additional prepackaged cocaine.

Wright and Amman both utilized the same color-coded bread-tie system to signify the quantities in the baggies. In this way, the defendant was both a buyer of large quantities and a street-level dealer, keeping all of the middleman profits for himself. The drugs located by police included 5,864.588 grams (5.9 kilos) of cocaine and 289.607 grams (1/4 kilo) of crack cocaine. Wright admitted to all of the drugs, while Amman agreed that he was personally responsible for between 700 grams and one kilogram of cocaine, as well as the 5.767 grams of crack cocaine found at his property.

The court was also advised that Wright and others commonly laundered his drug money by structuring it. In one example, Wright deposited $10,000 in cash into another person’s account, added it to $40,000 of that person’s "legitimate" money and used it to make a $50,000 deposit on a Daytona Beach house. They paid the next $100,000 off by buying multiple postal money orders - for $1,000 each, at multiple different locations, in short periods - and then used them to pay the monthly amount due on the property. They also financed the purchase of vehicles and many other items listed in the Indictment similarly. Wright also cashed paychecks in return for cocaine.

The government forfeited numerous items from the defendants including a residence, automobiles, motorcycles and large amounts of cash.

President Judge Hornak scheduled Wright’s sentencing for July 18, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. and Amman’s sentencing was scheduled for June 7, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of up to 60 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of a defendant.

After considering Wright’s frail health and recent hospitalization, the Court agreed to allow the defendant to remain on Electronic Home Monitoring (with a house arrest bracelet) pending his sentencing. Co-defendant Amman is incarcerated pending his sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Richard Stuart Wright and Walter John Amman, III.

Updated March 4, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Financial Fraud