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Penn Hills man accused in drug case

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Penn Hills man who works for the Port Authority moonlights as a major cocaine trafficker, according to an affidavit unsealed on Thursday in federal court.

Federal prosecutors have charged John Saban Jr., 50, with participating in a drug conspiracy. Saban on Wednesday waived his right to a preliminary hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy and posted a $10,000 unsecured bond.

He and his lawyer, Michael Foglia, couldn't be reached for comment.

Investigators assigned to an interagency task force in Los Angeles intercepted Saban on July 14 when he showed up at a Federal Express facility in Van Nuys, Calif., to pick up a package containing about $32,000, according to an affidavit by DEA Special Agent Kevin Black.

Saban told investigators that the money was to hire entertainers for Pittsburgh area clubs, but he couldn't provide them with the names of any clubs, the affidavit said. A subsequent search of Saban's 2011 Ford Explorer turned up another $252,000, according to the affidavit.

Saban told investigators that he was laid off from the Port Authority and receiving unemployment.

Jim Ritchie, spokesman for the Port Authority of Allegheny County, said Saban is employed and performs light maintenance on buses.

"When we become aware of an issue, we investigate," Ritchie said.

From further intercepted packages and phone taps, the investigators determined that Saban was running a cocaine trafficking ring that used Federal Express and UPS to bring in cocaine from Las Vegas, the affidavit says.

The DEA has charged 10 people with participating in the ring, which operated in Penn Hills and Garfield.

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