Lower Burrell man faces drug charges

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Last year, Trinidad native Omali McKay bought a big house in Lower Burrell for $235,000.

That was quite a feat for a 27-year-old who told immigration authorities that his income from his lawn care business in 2010 was $4,123.

Federal agents say he bought the place with money from his real job: drug dealer.

Federal prosecutors this week moved to confiscate the Puckety Church Road home as part of an investigation by state police, Homeland Security authorities and the criminal investigation division of the IRS.

Mr. McKay waived his detention hearing earlier this week in U.S. District Court and is being held in custody on gun and drug charges stemming from an Aug. 25 raid on the house and his apartment on Constitution Boulevard in Arnold. The search of the properties occurred after troopers investigated a report that Mr. McKay had fired shots at a car on Route 28.

The details of that incident aren't clear, but police stopped a Chevrolet Cobalt in Leechburg and detained Mr. McKay and two others, Janice Chelko and Ronald Wright. They took Mr. McKay into custody and searched his residences.

Inside the Lower Burrell house, police and federal agents said they found a kilo of cocaine in an attic crawl space.

They also found an AR-15 assault rifle, 3,000 rounds of ammunition, a semi-automatic pistol, two bulletproof vests, and $271,000 in cash, in addition to a Mercedes and a Lexus parked in the driveway.

All are subject to forfeiture.

Mr. McKay is charged directly by complaint with drug dealing and possession of a gun in furtherance of a drug crime. Federal prosecutors have 30 days from the time a complaint is filed to bring an indictment.

At an arraignment Tuesday, Mr. McKay's lawyer argued that the gun charge should be tossed out because the government has no evidence the weapons were used in drug crimes.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy ordered him held pending trial.

Immigration authorities have placed a detainer on Mr. McKay as well, meaning he will likely be deported if he is convicted.

neigh_westmoreland

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.


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