Second elderly Pittsburgh man pleads guilty to cocaine trafficking
An elderly Pittsburgh man pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to trafficking in cocaine and money laundering for more than 20 years.
Richard Stuart Wright, 76, entered the guilty plea to three counts before United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak.
He will be allowed to remain at home on a monitor pending sentencing in July because of his ill health, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement Monday.
Wright and co-defendant Walter John Amman, III, 69, not only purchased large amounts of powdered and crack cocaine, the government contends, they also sold the drugs at street level to cut out any mid-level dealers.
On Feb. 14 Amman pleaded guilty to two counts of drug trafficking.
Both men consistently packaged drugs using a color-coded bread-tie system to signify the quantities in the baggies, according to U.S. Attorney Scott Brady.
Police and agents said, over the years, the two sold almost 13 pounds — some 5,900 grams — of powered cocaine and 8 pounds, or 289.6 grams, of crack pieces.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement Monday that Wright “admitted to all of the drugs, while Amman agreed that he was personally responsible for between 700 grams and one kilogram of cocaine, as well as the 5.767 grams of crack cocaine found at his property.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration made controlled buys of cocaine from Amman before the men were charged.
According to the DEA, when Wright’s garage was searched on Jan. 11, 2017, agents found prepackaged cocaine, multiple firearms and thousands rounds of ammunition along with large amounts of cash.
Investigators say a search warrant served at Amman’s residence the same day turned up firearms and prepackaged crack and cocaine.
The DEA was assisted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Branch, Homeland Security Investigations and Pittsburgh Police
The court was also told that Wright and others laundered his drug money.
“In one example, Wright deposited $10,000 in cash into another person’s account, added it to $40,000 of that person’s ‘legitimate’ money and used it to make a $50,000 deposit on a Daytona Beach house,” prosecutors said.
The two also are accused of buying $100,000 worth of postal money orders at $1,000 each and using them to pay the monthly amount due on the property.
Hornak scheduled Wright’s sentencing for July 18 and Amman’s sentencing was scheduled for June 7.
The men each could face up to 60 years in prison, and fines of up to $2.5 million, or both.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .