West End Retail Store Owner Admits Role in Drug Trafficking Scheme
PITTSBURGH - A resident of Pittsburgh, PA, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Willie Harris, age 40, pleaded guilty to one count before Senior United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration initiated a wiretap investigation, primarily targeting extensive drug trafficking in and around an area known as the Greenway Projects, located in the West End of the City of Pittsburgh. The wiretap investigation revealed that from in and around November 2017 through in and around June 2018, Willie Harris conspired to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine out of the retail convenience store that he owned, Woogie’s Market, located on Chartiers Ave., in the West End of the City of Pittsburgh.
Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for May 18, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of not less than 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of $8,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court continued the defendant’s detention.
Assistant United States Attorneys Tonya Sulia Goodman and Yvonne M. Saadi are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration jointly led the multi-agency investigation, which also included the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, Robinson Township Police Department, Stowe Township Police Department, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Wilkinsburg Borough Police Department, and the McKees Rocks Police Department, that led to the prosecution of Willie Harris.
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.