California man pleads guilty in Pittsburgh cocaine conspiracy

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A California man who carried cocaine on flights to Pittsburgh pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy charges today and faces a likely 10-year sentence.

Marlowe Wheeler, 40, of Emeryville, was part of a conspiracy that brought some 2,000 kilograms of cocaine to the Pittsburgh area, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS criminal investigations division investigation.

Wheeler took responsibility today for conspiring to sell 28 kilograms of cocaine  and for laundering $14,000 in drug money.

He faces formal sentencing on April 16. The prosecution and defense recommended a 10-year sentence to U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone.

Wheeler was accused of being a part of a conspiracy prosecutors said was led by Robert Russell Spence, of Coraopolis, who has pleaded not guilty.

Two other people accused of being members of that group pleaded guilty Friday, and another is set to plead this afternoon. Five members are scheduled to go on trial Jan. 8.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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