3rd Circuit Court of Appeals orders new sentence for Pittsburgh heroin dealer

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A federal judge who sentenced a heroin dealer to 10 years in prison when sentencing guidelines called for just 2 1/2 years will have to issue a new sentence, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Thursday.

Michael Lowry, 28, of Pittsburgh, was charged after attempting to sell less than 100 grams of heroin to an undercover police officer and pleaded guilty.

His history of dealing small amounts of drugs led to a recommended sentence of 24 to 30 months. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Haller asked for six years, accusing Mr. Lowry in a court memorandum of killing a man, for which he was not then charged.

U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch went four years beyond even the prosecutor's suggestion, ruling that "a guideline sentence would not adequately protect the public from the Defendant, provide any hope for rehabilitation, or provide adequate deterrence," as quoted by the 3rd Circuit.

The appeals judges found Judge Bloch's decision "procedurally unreasonable" and wrote that it is much different from that of other, similar defendants.

It remanded the case back to district court for resentencing.

In January, Mr. Lowry was charged in the Nov. 19, 2010, killing of Robert James in the Shamrock Bar on the North Side. No preliminary hearing has yet been scheduled.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. First Published May 11, 2012 11:30 AM


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