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Former drug kingpin gets four months for carrying stolen gun

| Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 12:58 p.m.

A former drug kingpin who served less than seven years of his life sentence will soon be out of jail despite getting caught with a stolen gun, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose sentenced Donald Lyles, 38, to four months for violating his parole and gave him credit for the time he spent in jail since Pittsburgh police arrested him Oct. 11.

Lyles' attorney, Emily McNally, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Eberle agreed to the four-month sentence. They both declined comment after the hearing.

Lyles, who posted a $25,000 bond on the state gun charges, agreed he violated his probation. That allowed the sentencing, which will probably result in releasing him from jail this month, and possibly allow him to regain the job he had before his arrest.

Once the top lieutenant in a drug ring that sold more than 60 pounds of heroin and 300 pounds of cocaine in four years, Lyles said the arrest is a minor setback in his rehabilitation. For the past few years he has worked full time and regularly attended church, Lyles said.

“I've most definitely changed for the best,” he said.

Ambrose said she was troubled by the fact that police charged Lyles with carrying a stolen gun and resisting arrest but agreed he had turned his life around.

Spokesmen for the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration and the Pittsburgh police narcotics unit couldn't be reached for comment.

Authorities in 2002 said the drug ring Lyles helped lead was the largest supplier of cocaine and heroin to Western Pennsylvania. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft came to Pittsburgh to announce the arrests.

Ambrose sentenced Lyles to life in 2003 under the Continuing Criminal Enterprise Act, which carries a mandatory life sentence for top people in large drug rings. At the request of prosecutors, she twice reduced his sentence because of his cooperation with government investigations.

The second reduction, in November 2009, sentenced Lyles to time served and five years of probation.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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