Peters drug dealer wins reduced sentence for cooperating

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Francis Mario Tinsley was looking at 22 to 27 years in prison for the sale of crack and possession of 16 guns despite a felony past, but will instead be locked up for three years under a sentence imposed today.

Tinsley, 37, of Peters Township, had prior drug dealing convictions that placed him in the highest criminal history category under federal law. The mandatory minimum sentences on the drug and gun charges were 10 and 15 years, respectively. He and his attorneys, though, argued that the circumstances of his offense and "substantial cooperation" with federal investigators warranted a lenient sentence.

Tinsley explained that he returned to drug dealing because his business, Tinsley Transport, which carries cars across country, was struggling and he was trying to maintain his family's lifestyle.

"The business was falling apart," said attorney Stanton Levenson, who along with Chris Rand Eyster represented Tinsley. "Times were bad. They couldn't get a loan. They exhausted their savings. so Mario turned to drug dealing."

"There are many people who face [hard times] and they don't choose to do crime," said U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

Assistant U.S. attorney Katherine King said little in open court, other than to note that "a sentence of imprisonment is appropriate."

Following several long sidebar conversations with the involved attorneys, the judge found that three years in prison and eight years of probation would be appropriate.

"This is an enormous reduction," she confirmed. She also gave Tinsley time to get his business in order before reporting to prison.

She ordered him to forfeit six shotguns, six rifles and four pistols. Felons are not allowed to possess firearms.

"The guns were used for hunting and self-protection," said Mr. Eyster after the sentencing.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published December 11, 2013 12:16 PM

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