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Federal cocaine charges filed against Leechburg man suing borough

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 1:07 a.m.

A Leechburg man who is suing Leechburg and its police in federal court and a Plum man have been charged by federal authorities with transporting cocaine in Missouri in October.

Lewis J. Machen, 65, of Lynn Ann Drive, Plum, and passenger Travis J. Lasko, 47, of Spang Ave., Leechburg, were arrested by the Missouri highway patrol on Oct. 5. POlice said they found about 35 pounds of cocaine hidden in a juke box in a truck that Machen was driving.

The men initially were facing Missouri state charges. But they were indicted last Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City.

They had entered not guilty pleas in state court. Machen and Lasko were to be transferred from the Saline County Jail to Kansas City.

Machen and Lasko are charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to deliver cocaine.

According to the indictment, the men conspired “with each other and others” to distribute a large amount of cocaine or cocaine mix between Sept. 6 and Oct. 5.

According to arrest reports, Machen was driving a silver Chevrolet Suburban on Interstate 70 in Saline County, Mo., just before 11:30 a.m. when he was pulled over for an improper lane change about 60 miles east of Kansas City, Mo.

In the arrest report, a patrolman said Machen told him that he and Lasko were on their way back to Pennsylvania after taking items to Los Angeles for Lasko's mother-in-law.

The patrolman said Machen was acting suspiciously and refused to allow the SUV to be searched. That's when a police dog allegedly “alerted to the odor of an illegal drug emanating from the rear of the truck,” the report states.

In addition to cocaine, police said they found about 1.4 ounces of marijuana.

In a pending federal lawsuit, Lasko is suing Leechburg Borough, its police department and the Armstrong County District Attorney for his 2006 arrest.

His sentence was vacated but only after he had served 16 months of a 15- to 30-month prison sentence.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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