California man found guilty of supplying cocaine for Pittsburgh drug ring

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A California resident accused in 2010 of attempting to smuggle 19 kilograms of cocaine on to a Pittsburgh-bound flight has been found guilty on drug trafficking charges and faces a March 3 sentencing, according to court filings late Wednesday and today.

Two alleged co-conspirators, though, were found not guilty.

Ruben M. Mitchell, 45, of Stockton, was accused of being a source of drugs for a local ring that allegedly included Montel Staples, 41, of West Mifflin. Mr. Staples formerly served as the basketball coach in the Duquesne City School District.

After a three-week trial before before U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone, and four days of deliberations, a jury found him guilty of conspiracy and attempt to possess and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Found not guilty at the same trial were Errick L. Bradford, 42, of Oakland, Calif., and Anthony Bursey, 39, of Sacramento.

Mr. Bradford worked at Oakland International Airport and was accused of facilitating the transportation of the drug.

"We're very pleased with the outcome obviously," said Mr. Bradford's attorney, Mel Vatz. "I think the jury spoke to what was a lack of evidence produced, in a very long trial, against my client."

Mr. Staples pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and his sentencing has not yet been scheduled.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord

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