Houston man sentenced in Beaver County cocaine ring

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A Houston man who helped to bring about 180 kilograms of cocaine into Beaver County was sentenced today to 20 years in prison.

Vincent Middlebrooks, who was 39 at the time of his indictment in late 2011, pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiring to sell cocaine.

He was charged as part of a four-person indictment that also included Carlos Cleckley, a former basketball and football coach at Beaver Falls High School.

In sentencing Middlebrooks, U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch relied on testimony this afternoon from another defendant, Adrian Taylor, 36, of Beaver Falls.

He told the judge that during 2010, Middlebrooks brought him about eight kilograms of cocaine a month and that the amounts got bigger in 2011 when they began using long-haul trucks to move the drug. Middlebrooks made about 35 trips by plane to Pittsburgh to coordinate the deliveries and collect money, Judge Bloch said.

Lee Markovitz, representing Middlebrooks, said he was a first-time offender and an involved father.

Judge Bloch said those reasons weren't enough to stray from federal sentencing guidelines that suggested between 17 and 22 years in prison.

"The enormous scope of the cocaine trafficking and the relative sophistication of the conspiracy demonstrate that a substantial sentence is necessary," the judge said.

Mr. Cleckley, who was 36 when indicted, and Mr. Taylor have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

The truck driver, Gathon Dudley Shannon, of Houston, who was 45 when indicted, was found guilty at trial and has 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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