Texas man sent to prison for role in Texas-to-Beaver County drug ring
A Houston man who helped dust Western Pennsylvania with hundreds of kilograms of cocaine will spend 20 years in prison but avoided being labeled as the kingpin of a Texas-to-Beaver County drug ring.
Senior U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch on Monday sentenced Vincent D. Middlebrooks, 40, to federal prison and ordered him to spend five years on supervised release. Middlebrooks, who did not speak during the hearing Downtown, pleaded guilty last year to distributing more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, conspiracy to distribute and money laundering.
Prosecutors sought to identify Middlebrooks as the ringleader in order to increase his prison sentence. Among people who received the drugs was Carlos “Los” Cleckley, 37, a former assistant football and basketball coach at Beaver Falls High School.
Bloch found that Middlebrooks and Adrian “Tate” Taylor, 36, of Beaver Falls had a buyer-seller relationship but that Middlebrooks had no control over distribution of the drug after it left his possession.
“(Middlebrooks) in no way gave Taylor directive over what to do with the cocaine once he sold it,” Bloch said. “There is no evidence (Middlebrooks) organized the distribution ring.”
Taylor testified Monday that he paid Middlebrooks $30,000 to $38,000 a kilogram. Bloch found that Middlebrooks was responsible for shipping 180 to 200 kilograms to Western Pennsylvania from December 2009 through September 2011 by airplane and truck.
Pennsylvania state troopers' investigation of the ring dated to at least May 2010, when they took photos of Middlebrooks at Beaver Valley Mall during one of about 35 trips he made to the area, testimony revealed.
In September 2011, federal agents arrested Middlebrooks and Taylor, seizing 16 kilograms of cocaine along with $700,000 in cash. Taylor said that was the largest amount he paid Middlebrooks, which included about $210,000 he previously owed.
Taylor testified he resold the drug to six people, including Cleckley, sometimes for $40,000 a kilogram. Prosecutors charged Cleckley and Gathon Shannon, 45, of Houston, who drove the drugs from Texas to Beaver County. All pleaded guilty and are in custody.
Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Offense awakens to lead Steelers past Panthers
- Game changers: Turnover leads to elusive TD for Steelers
- Researchers study ways to protect power grid from solar storms
- Pirates, Worley edge Brewers, 1-0, move to cusp of playoffs
- PA will deal online poker in 2017, financial analysis says
- Pirates notebook: Bucs set single-season attendance record
- Steelers notebook: Rooney says owners support Goodell
- Penguins notebook: Carcillo hopes to give team physical edge
- Machine operator avoids serious injuries in accident in North Huntingdon
- Inside the glass: Penguins’ Martin, Ehrhoff look comfortable together
- Penguins forward Megna’s skill set might be perfect fit