Invited to join in a plot to rob a house in which a dealer purportedly stashed his cocaine, Edward Harris said yes, claiming, "I'm the man, I'm the gun."
The only problems: The stash house wasn't real, and the man proposing the robbery was an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
As a result, the former Aliquippa man was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years and 8 months in prison.
Harris, 38, was recorded having conversations about the proposed robbery with the ATF agent, and then showed up in Bridgeville for what he believed would be a 10-kilogram score. He was arrested there.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and attempt to possess and distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and two separate cocaine-dealing charges.
His attorney, Brian Aston, said the recordings were mere "braggadocio" and that his client showed up for the rendezvous with only a pen knife.
He said the Harris family was having financial problems and the agent's promise of $330,000 worth of cocaine "falling out of the sky" was too much to resist.
"I felt as though my bills and debts had piled up so much, I was desperate to resolve them," Harris said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Haller countered that the crew was prepared to shed blood to take the cocaine, and that Harris' co-conspirator, Sean Moffitt, was assigned to bring "the artillery."
Mr. Moffitt, 33, of the North Side never made it to Bridgeville but was convicted at trial in June, and faces sentencing Oct. 31.
"Mr. Harris had been selling drugs for years," Mr. Haller said, and had a history of juvenile violence when, at age 17, he shot a young woman in the face, perhaps by accident.
"I counted 20 arrests of one kind or another," said U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill, who imposed the sentence. "I counted 10 as a juvenile, starting when he was 13 years old."
A third co-conspirator pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years and one month in prison.
Rich Lord: email@example.com, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter @richelord.