Ex-drug kingpin lands back in jail; life sentence in 2003 was set aside because he helped investigators
A former drug kingpin who claimed in February that he had turned his life around is back in jail on a drug charge, according to federal court documents.
Sentenced in 2003 to a mandatory life sentence, Donald Lyles, 39, cooperated with drug investigators and walked out of federal prison in 2009.
Lyles was jailed in October, when Pittsburgh police arrested him for driving with a stolen gun in his car. The offense led to pending state criminal charges and a federal probation violation.
He struck a plea bargain on the federal probation violation that resulted in a four-month sentence and allowed him to get out of jail on bail while awaiting trial on the state charges.
Federal and local law enforcement agents on Thursday tracked Lyles as he tried to deliver more than 100 grams of heroin to a North Side address, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Karen Springmeyer.
After his arrest on Hoffman Street, Lyles admitted he was delivering the bag of heroin on the front passenger seat of his car, the affidavit says.
He is being held without bail, and his initial appearance before a federal magistrate is scheduled for Monday, according to court records.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment. Lyles' attorney, Emily McNally, couldn't be reached.
“What you see in this case is an extreme example of what's going on throughout the system,” said Wes Oliver, a Duquesne University law professor and director of the college's criminal justice program.
Federal sentencing guidelines are designed to reward criminals who cooperate with police, not those who change and are unlikely to commit more crimes, he said.
Because drug kingpins have more information than low-level drug dealers, they get the most credit when they cooperate. Kingpins often get lighter sentences than their subordinates, Oliver said.
“The most dangerous people are given the greatest degree of mercy,” Oliver said.
Lyles was once the top lieutenant in a drug ring that sold more than 60 pounds of heroin and 300 pounds of cocaine in four years.
Authorities in 2002 said the drug ring that 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.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 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.
- Steelers notebook: Spence’s future uncertain after reinjuring knee
- Kentucky firefighters recovering from ice stunt shocks
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Keisel always hoped to return to Steelers
- Time on the bench gets Snider back into Pirates lineup
- Woman shot dead, mother wounded in Hill District shooting
- Pitt football team rallies around its youth
- Ferguson residents fear return of rioting, looting
- Records: Steelers RB Bell admitted smoking pot before traffic stop but denied being high
- Google Maps opens business doors to online views for shoppers
- Distracted Steelers show nothing in loss to Eagles