'Major' heroin suppliers charged in Westmoreland Co.
Westmoreland County Detectives have charged three "major" heroin suppliers with funneling drugs to an alleged Jeannette dealer awaiting trial for operating a million-dollar ring.
James S. Moore, 29, formerly of McKeesport and currently an inmate at SCI Smithfield in Huntingdon County, and Sade L. Franklin, 30, of Harrisburg, were planning drug runs to New Jersey for a local operation run by 27-year-old Chauncey Lamar "Gunner" Bray while Moore was serving a drug-related sentence in prison, according to court documents filed by Detective Ray Dupilka.
Moore is in prison awaiting arraignment on the complaints filed Friday, while Franklin was picked up by authorities over the weekend in Cumberland County. Franklin will be transported for arraignment before Youngwood District Judge Anthony Bompiani.
When Bray was arrested Feb. 1, Dupilka called him Westmoreland's "top dog" heroin supplier. He has been held in the county jail on $1 million bond and is headed to trial on criminal counts of running a corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy and 11 counts of delivery.
Lindsey Rashon Wright, 37, of Clairton, is accused of supplying Bray's heroin network since November.
Wright was arrested in Clairton Friday, about 16 days after he posted $100,000 bond in a drug-related case in Somerset County. In that case, state troopers stopped him along the turnpike on April 12 for allegedly transporting a large amount of heroin.
"Basically, we believe we have dismantled two different heroin supply networks. Once the Moore-Franklin network that was supplying Bray from April 2016 until November from a source in New Jersey dried up, we believe Wright became Bray's chief supplier," Dupilka said.
Investigators are "still investigating the supply chain," and more arrests are possible, he said.
Bompiani set bond for Wright at $1 million and added a stipulation that he cannot be released on the most recent charges until it is proved the money comes from a "legitimate" source.
Dupilka said investigators have obtained "hundreds" of emails and telephone conversation recordings between Franklin and Moore, who was in prison while arranging drug deliveries to Bray's network.
The discussions — which took place by telephone, through email and sometimes in person when Franklin visited Moore in prison — are repeatedly referenced in the affidavit.
"Franklin stated that with respect to (Moore's) incarceration, Moore informed her that he was appealing his previous conviction and was attempting to raise money for a private attorney to take this appeal," Dupilka wrote. "Moore asked for her assistance in raising the necessary monies for this private legal counsel. Franklin stated that Moore had devised a plan to deliver quantities of heroin to his associates for distribution ... from Patterson, N.J., to western Pennsylvania."
Franklin admitted to making several supply trips at Moore's direction in an interview with investigators. Franklin said she delivered at least 180 bricks of heroin to Bray between May and August 2016, and he picked up cash from Bray, according to the affidavit.
An informant, who was part of Moore's supply network, said Moore told her to, "Tell Bro (Bray) it's a go ..." in reference to a prearranged heroin delivery from New Jersey," the affidavit states.
The affidavit notes Dupilka tried to interview Wright during his bond hearing April 19 in Somerset County.
"'(Expletive) you,'" Dupilka quoted Wright as saying. "'... Do your job. ... I ain't doing your job for you.'"
Dupilka took that recorded conversation to a confidential informant, who verified it was Wright's voice that arranged numerous drug transactions with Bray.
Authorities allege Bray's network would bring at least 20 bricks of heroin weekly into the county for distribution. Police used confidential informants to break up the operation, which they believe worked in a similar fashion to one dismantled in 2012 in which Bray was considered a leader, according to an affidavit.
County detectives, sheriff's deputies, state troopers and police officers from Greensburg and Penn Township seized heroin and stolen guns in February while executing six search warrants in Greensburg, Hunker, Youngwood and Hempfield.
Also arrested were Kellie Lee Hays, 55, of Youngwood, who is charged with the same offenses as Bray and Ryan; and Nathaniel Meyers, 22, of Jeannette, who is charged with receiving stolen property, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm without a license.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.