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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 27, 2020

Pittsburgh Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge following Safe Streets Task Force Investigation of South Side Gang

PITTSBURGH, PA- A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to narcotics trafficking in connection with a large-scale investigation conducted by the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

James Givner, 26 pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of heroin and fentanyl before United States District Judge William S. Stickman IV. He also pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin and crack cocaine. Mr. Dunbar is one of 36 defendants charged in the Indictment.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in 2017, the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force initiated an investigation primarily targeting the Darccide/Smash 44, or DS44, neighborhood gang, and its drug-trafficking activity, in and around the South Side area of Pittsburgh. As part of this large-scale narcotics and firearms investigation, in February of 2019, the United States received authorization to conduct a federal wire investigation, which continued through June of 2019.

Intercepted communications demonstrated that Givner sold heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine base to customers, as well as facilitated drug transactions for co-defendant Christopher Highsmith. The court was further informed that during a traffic stop on January 14, 2019, the Allegheny County Police, Givner possessed more than 180 stamp bags of heroin, and a baggie containing cocaine base. In connection with his guilty plea, Mr. Givner accepted responsibility for distributing or possessing with intent to distribute 220 grams of heroin and fentanyl, and 6 grams of cocaine base. He also admitted to possessing a firearm in connection with his drug trafficking activity.

Judge Stickman scheduled sentencing for Sept. 11, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of not less than five years up to 40 years of imprisonment, a fine of $6,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. Mr. Givner remains in custody pending the sentencing hearing.

Assistant United States Attorney Christy C. Wiegand is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, Allegheny County Adult Probation, Allegheny County Police Department, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Narcotics, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and the Wilkinsburg

Police Department. Other assisting agencies include the Green Tree Police Department, New YorkCityPolice Department,Mount Oliver Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Yonkers Police Department,United States MarshalsFugitive Task Force, and the United States Postal InspectionService.

The investigation was funded by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task ForceProgram (OCDETF).The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination thatallows federal and state agencies to work togetherto successfully identify, investigate,and prosecutemajor interstate and international drug traffickingorganizations and other criminal enterprises.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated April 27, 2020