'2 major players' guilty of trafficking heroin in Western Pennsylvania
Westmoreland County jurors on Monday convicted two men of running a million-dollar heroin-trafficking ring based in the Greensburg area over a two-year period that ended in 2012.
The jury, following a six-day trial, found James S. Moore, 26, of Smithton guilty of racketeering, conspiracy and drug dealing. One of his lieutenants, Dominick W. Haynes, 26, of McKeesport was convicted of similar charges.
Both men were charged with being key players in the drug-trafficking ring that stretched from New Jersey to Western Pennsylvania.
“These were the two major players,” said Assistant District Attorney James Lazar. “The jury recognized this operation was moving thousands of bricks of heroin into our county.”
The jury deliberated more than five hours and convicted both men of the most serious charges. Moore was found guilty on 16 of 20 charges. Haynes was convicted of eight offenses, while the jury acquitted him on 12 lesser drug counts.
Lazar said both men could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. Warren County Senior Judge Paul H. Millin, who presided over the trial, will sentence Moore and Haynes in about three months.
Millin was tabbed to preside over the cases of all 18 defendants charged in connection with the Moore drug organization.
Jury selection for two more defendants will begin next month. Lazar said five others charged in the operation have pleaded guilty to drug charges.
During the trial, the prosecution contended that the group sold hundreds of bricks of heroin every week, earning $50,000 on those sales. It generated more than $1.2 million over a six-month period, Lazar said.
“That's an awful lot of money,” Lazar told jurors in his closing argument. “This is a case of modern-day gangsters.”
Lazar described the drug operation as an organized business with a structure and a mass-marketing effort to lure heroin addicts over the two years of its operation.
The group operated in the Greensburg, Mt. Pleasant and Latrobe areas in 2010 and 2011. It routinely sent emissaries, including Moore, to New Jersey to bring the drugs to Western Pennsylvania, Lazar told jurors.
More than a dozen of Moore's suspected dealers and heroin customers testified during the trial.
Defense attorneys Michael DeMatt, for Moore, and William Gallishen, for Haynes, told jurors that testimony from those witnesses should not be believed.
“They're trying to paint James Moore as the executive. Their case is based on assumptions, and that's not good, sufficient evidence,” DeMatt said. “This was not an organization. It's just the way drug transactions happen.”
Gallishen argued that his client was never identified as a participant in the drug deals.
“If you accept their testimony, Mr. Haynes must have been the invisible man. This is guilt by association,” Gallishen said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.