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Leechburg man gets 5 years on federal cocaine charges

| Friday, July 4, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Leechburg man is serving a 5-year prison sentence in connection with a conspiracy to bring about 35 pounds of cocaine into the Alle-Kiski Valley.

Travis J. Lasko, 48, of Spang Avenue was ordered to serve five years of supervised probation after he completes his sentence, Judge Greg Kays ruled Monday in Kansas City, according to a spokesman for the federal court for the Western District of Missouri.

According to police, the cocaine was inside an old jukebox in an SUV pulled over by a state trooper along a busy highway in Missouri.

Louis J. Machen, 65, of Lynn Ann Drive, Plum, was driving. His sentencing is scheduled for next month.

Lasko could have received 10 years or more plus a large fine if he was found guilty of charges of selling and conspiracy to sell more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.

But in an agreement, Lasko pleaded guilty to one charge only, and the government dropped the first charge.

Lasko's Kansas City attorney, Kevin O'Brien, said Lasko and Machen qualify under a federal “safety valve” sentencing exemption. The exemption is for non-violent people with little or no federal criminal records.

“Mr. Lasko has a minimal criminal history, and most of it is very old,” O'Brien said.

Lasko served a federal sentence for making methamphetamine but much of that sentence was overturned, O'Brien said.

On Monday, Kays ruled Lasko qualified for the “safety valve” exemption.

Kays' sentencing order asks the Missouri prisons bureau to send Lasko to a prison in Pennsylvania, where he can complete a 500-hour residential substance abuse treatment program.

Lasko is the same man who is suing local police.

In a pending federal lawsuit, Lasko is suing Leechburg Borough, its police department and the Armstrong County district attorney for his 2006 arrest for marijuana possession.

His sentence for that arrest was vacated but only after he had served 16 months behind bars.

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

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