Man found guilty of conspiring to provide cocaine to Beaver County drug ring

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A federal jury today found guilty a Houston-based trucker whom the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration accused of transporting large amounts of cocaine from Texas to a Beaver Falls-based drug ring.

The jury found Gathon Dudley Shannon, 46, guilty of conspiring to sell the drug, though not guilty of possessing it.

He was arrested in October 2011 after agents stopped his truck and found $669,340 in the sleeper cabin about the same time they caught his contact, Vincent Middlebrooks, with nearly 16 kilograms of cocaine in the trunk of his car.

During a two-week trial, Shannon testified in his own defense, saying his travels were geared toward delivering legal loads and visiting a girlfriend in Baltimore and didn't reflect cocaine drops.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Rivetti used records of Shannon's travels and communications to paint him as a conspirator with a fellow Texan, 40-year-old Middlebrooks, and Beaver Falls residents Adrian M. Taylor, 36, and Carlos Cleckley, 37.

The jury was also told of Shannon's prior felony convictions.

Shannon faces sentencing April 22 before U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch.

Mr. Cleckley, a former Beaver Falls High School football and basketball coach, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to sell cocaine and crack, and faces an April 25 sentencing.

The other two conspirators also pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.

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


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