Nabbed in a sting after a federal agent recruited him into a fake drug-house robbery, a former Aliquippa man was sentenced today to 16 years and 8 months in prison of cocaine-related crimes.
Edward Harris, 38, was recorded having several conversations about the proposed robbery with a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives undercover agent and then showed up in Bridgeville for what he believed would be a 10 kilogram score.
He was arrested.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and attempt to possess and distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and to 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 some $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. "I did this trying to find a quick fix."
Assistant U.S. attorney Craig Haller countered that Harris' co-conspirator Sean Moffitt was assigned to bring "the artillery," which showed the crew was prepared to shed blood to take the faux cocaine.
"Mr. Harris had been selling drugs for years," Mr. Haller added, 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."
Mr. Moffitt, 33, of the North Side, never made it to the rendezvous point but was convicted at trial in June, and faces sentencing Oct. 31.
A third co-conspirator pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years and one month in prison.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.