‘SCO’ Gang Leader and 2 Associates Plead Guilty to Multiple Charges
PITTSBURGH, PA – Three former residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to drug 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.
Howard McFadden, 30, formerly of Turtle Creek, PA, Donald Singleton, 48, formerly of Penn Hills, PA, and Chadlin Leavy, 31, of Pittsburgh, PA pleaded guilty this week to multiple counts related to their involvement in conspiracies to distribute controlled substances in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
In connection with the guilty pleas, the Court was advised that the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force conducted a long-term investigation of drug trafficking occurring in and around Braddock Borough and identified several members and associates of a neighborhood-based street gang, self-titled "SCO" that were responsible for distributing controlled substances in Western Pennsylvania, including SCO’s leader, Howard McFadden.
In January of 2019, investigators obtained authorization to conduct a federal wire investigation, which continued through May of 2019. Through the course of this investigation, the Court was informed that intercepted communications confirmed McFadden’s involvement in drug-trafficking as well as other members, associates and/or suppliers of McFadden – and SCO, including Singleton and Leavy.
As to McFadden, the Court was informed, that McFadden used younger SCO members and associates as runners and couriers to facilitate drug transactions with his drug customers. He also used a number of houses, throughout Braddock, including houses that he owned via his house-flipping business, H&M Home Solutions, as stash house locations. The Court was informed that on one occasion, McFadden and another member of the conspiracy were observed sitting in McFadden’s vehicle, parked on Seddon Avenue, placing a clear plastic baggie containing suspected narcotics on a scale located on the center armrest of McFadden’s vehicle.
In conjunction with his guilty plea McFadden also admitted that he unlawfully possessed a Glock 30, .45 caliber automatic pistol, which law enforcement seized at the time of McFadden’s arrest. On June 12, 2019, law enforcement seized from McFadden a Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Glock pistol, high-end jewelry and a total of $23,578. In conjunction with the change of plea, McFadden admitted to conspiring to distribute 1,128 grams of heroin, 2,546 grams of cocaine and 371.15 grams of cocaine base.
As to Singleton, the Court was informed that he was one of McFadden’s close associates and regularly talked with McFadden over the phone to discuss their drug-trafficking operations. Singleton, who maintained his own smaller customer base, admitted that in addition to providing McFadden with drug-trafficking advice and the names of individuals who could supply McFadden with controlled substances that he also let McFadden use an apartment in Penn Hills at the Wellington Square Apartment complex to process cocaine into cocaine base, more commonly known as crack. On June 12, 2019, law enforcement seized numerous items from this apartment indicative of drug-trafficking. In conjunction with the change of plea, Singleton admitted to conspiring to distribute 80 grams of heroin, 2,000 grams of cocaine and 84 grams of cocaine base.
As to Leavy, the Court was informed that Leavy was a heroin, cocaine and marijuana source of supply for McFadden, among others. The Court was informed that law enforcement stopped Leavy while he was en route to meet with his marijuana source of supply, Jared Eck, to purchase 25- 30 lbs of marijuana from Eck for $30,000. Law enforcement found the $30,000 in the vehicle and seized it. Additionally, the Court was advised that on June 12, 2019, law enforcement seized from Leavy’s residence a 2008 Mercedes Benz S550, $42,882, four firearms and related magazines and ammunition, and high-end jewelry. In conjunction with the change of plea, Leavy admitted to conspiring to distribute 585 grams of heroin, 1,526 grams of cocaine and 53 kilograms of marijuana.
Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing as to Leavy for May 21, 2020, at 9:00 AM, as to Singleton for July 15, 2020, at 10:00 AM, and as to McFadden for July 28, 2020, at 11:00 AM.
As to McFadden, the law provides for maximum sentence of not less than 15 years and not more than life in prison, a fine of not more than $20,000,000, or both. As to Leavy and Singleton, the law provides for a maximum sentence of not less than five and not more than 40 years in prison, a fine of not more than $5,000,000, 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 the defendant. Leavy remains on bond pending sentencing in this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski 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 Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Allegheny County Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Narcotics, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Other assisting agencies include the Monroeville Police Department, Penn Hills Police Department, Wilkinsburg Police Department, and Allegheny County Adult Probation.
The investigation was funded by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program (OCDETF). The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.