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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Three Pittsburgh Residents Charged in Cocaine Distribution Ring

PITTSBURGH - Three residents of Pittsburgh have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.

The three-count indictment, returned yesterday, named Richard Stuart Wright, 74, and his wife, Michele Lynn Connell, 47, and Walter John Amman, III, 66, as defendants.

According to information presented to the court, several controlled purchases of cocaine were made from persons involved in the conspiracy which permitted federal agents to acquire search warrants for the residences of Wright, Connell and Amman, as well as a storage garage near Wright’s house, bank accounts and safety deposit boxes. A total of more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, some converted to crack, was located, along with over $600,000 in cash, numerous firearms, multiple vehicles and Harley Davidson motorcycles and drug packaging materials. Prepackaged amounts of cocaine were located in a fireman’s jacket with Amman’s name on it in his residence, and additional packaged amounts were located in his truck. These prepackaged quantities were color coded by their weight and also by their contents (i.e. crack cocaine or powder cocaine). This coding system was consistent with the prepackaged drugs in Wright’s residence and nearby garage. Federal authorities have also filed court documents to forfeit Wright’s Daytona Beach, Florida, residence, alleging that it was purchased with laundered money from Wright’s drug trafficking.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $40,000,000, or both, for the drug charges faced by Wright and Amman, while Connell and Wright also face a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000, or both, for the money laundering charge. 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 defendants.

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

The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

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

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated February 1, 2017