Homestead man was selling mostly fake drugs, prosecutor says

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A Homestead man charged federally following a Drug Enforcement Administration probe that identified him as a major ecstasy dealer was really selling mostly fake drugs, according to court filings today.

Vernon Dominguez, arrested in 2011 near The Waterfront, was charged with possession and distribution of ecstasy and benzylpiperazine, or BZP, and with having a gun in relation to a drug crime. BZP is a stimulant sometimes compared to amphetamines.

A sentencing motion filed today by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway, though, indicates that of the 200 pills Mr. Dominguez had on his person at the time of his arrest, and the 1,600 found in his apartment, just four contained BZP, and none were ecstasy. That means that what originally looked like a six-year sentence now computes to around a year under federal guidelines.

Mr. Conway, though, argued that because Mr. Dominguez had a gun, he should be sentenced to more than the recommended amount of prison time.

The fact that the drugs were fake doesn't diminish the dangerousness of dealing them with a firearm, Mr. Conway wrote. "In fact, the risk of violence may well be greater in this scenario because in a fake transaction one has the very real possibility of an angry unsatisfied customer becoming violent because he or she was ripped off by the drug dealer," he wrote.

Mr. Dominguez pleaded guilty in May to one count of possession with intent to deliver BZP and faces sentencing Jan. 2 before U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch.

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


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