Man pleads guilty; 17 others pending in Westmoreland heroin probe
One member of what police describe as a major heroin trafficking ring in Westmoreland County pleaded guilty Wednesday.
Lawyers for the remaining 17 suspects, charged last year by Greensburg and state police, appeared in another courtroom to sort through their cases, which are expected to be completed this summer.
“We consider this to be a large-scale heroin distribution network that was supplying a considerable part of heroin in the county,” Assistant District Attorney Jim Lazar said.
Daniel Leon Bizzelle Jr., 21, of Clairton, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to drug offenses and conspiracy for his role in the ring that police said operated in the Greensburg area between Sept. 29, 2011, and March 13, 2012.
Police contend the group sold drugs in parking lots, apartment complexes and other locations.
Bizzelle was sentenced by Judge Debra Pezze to serve four to 23 months in jail and five years on probation.
He was not required to testify against other suspects in exchange for the plea, according to defense attorney Adam Gorzelsky.
Police contend James Stephen Moore, 25, of South Huntingdon, was the ringleader of the operation that moved thousands of bricks of heroin between Allegheny and Westmoreland counties using a series of local people who supplied and sold the drugs, mainly in the Greensburg, Latrobe and Mt. Pleasant areas.
The large number of suspects prompted county court administrators to bring in Senior Judge Paul H. Millin from Warren County to oversee the cases.
During a hearing Wednesday, Millin said Moore and two men who police contend were his top lieutenants, Dominick William Haynes, 26, of McKeesport and Chauncy Lamar Bray, 22, of Greensburg will go to trial in June.
Two defendants are scheduled to be tried in July, Millen said.
Attorneys for the remaining suspects said in court that their clients are expected to plead guilty throughout the next several months.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.