ATF captures man in sting operation

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A U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sting in which an agent claimed to be a down-on-his-luck drug dealer resulted in a conviction late Thursday following a four-day jury trial.

Sean Moffitt, 33, was found guilty in U.S. District Court of conspiracy to possess cocaine and attempt to possess cocaine. Because he has a substantial prior criminal record, including a federal conviction for heroin dealing, and because the amount of fictional cocaine in the sting exceeded 5 kilograms, he could face a substantial sentence.

Moffitt was among three men caught on camera and tape having conversations with each other and with an undercover agent of the ATF. The agent portrayed himself as "a frustrated narcotics trafficker" with a plan "to go rip somebody off" by stealing their cocaine from a stash house, as defense attorney James Kraus summarized.

The agent told the men that there would be five or six kilograms of cocaine in the house, and that they would hit it May 9.

Moffitt, according to Mr. Kraus, "was playing along to get along."

On Wednesday, Moffitt testified but at one point refused to answer questions and began speaking extemporaneously, prompting Mr. Kraus to challenge his fitness for trial in a motion.

The jury deliberated for less than an hour. Sentencing is set for Oct. 1, by U.S. District Judge Judge Maurice B. Cohill.

The other two conspirators pleaded guilty earlier.

region

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


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