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Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Law Blog

Doctors convicted of money laundering in prescription drug scheme

After an acquittal last summer on charges of illegal distribution of prescription drugs, two defendants linked to a pill mill operation that stretched up the East Coast into Pennsylvania have been sentenced on other charges related to conspiracy in the operation. 

A federal jury convicted the two doctors of money laundering charges, circumventing the drug charges, which had allegedly resulted in nine deaths.

Do the marijuana laws in Pennsylvania make sense?

Medical marijuana supporters are getting behind a new Pennsylvania bill that proposes to make the possession of marijuana legal if it has been prescribed by a doctor as a medicine.

There was a rally at the state capitol recently, where medical marijuana supporters made a number of points arguing that the current marijuana laws do not make sense.

Pennsylvania senator proposes more tolerance of minor drug crimes

Many states have taken the lead in decriminalizing marijuana, especially for small possession charges. Pennsylvania might be the next to follow suit. Recently, a Pennsylvanian senator proposed two bills to be reviewed by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

The first proposed bill would make it a summary offense, rather than a misdemeanor, to hold under an ounce of marijuana. Basically, a person would receive a ticket and a fine for their first two low-level marijuana possession offenses and after that the decision to press criminal charges would rest in the hands of the district attorneys.

Pennsylvania man hurt after police find marijuana in his vehicle

According to a Pennsylvania police officer in Allegheny County, his gun went off by accident during a recent traffic stop. The officer engaged a 25-year-old man outside of his car after pulling him over for a suspected traffic violation. The officer suspected the man of possession of marijuana when he allegedly smelled the drug and reportedly spotted marijuana in the man’s vehicle, prior to the gun being fired. The man has been charged with several counts including drug and traffic violations.

Despite complying, the driver was allegedly slow to respond to instructions from the arresting officer to turn the ignition off and place his keys out of the window. The policeman attempted to open the car door and was allegedly struck by the door when it was opened by the driver. The officer had drawn his gun by this point and when the officer fell, allegedly attempting to detain the driver, he hit the ground and his gun was discharged. The officer says the shot was accidental.  There is an investigation underway by the district attorney’s office to review the arrest.

Former police officer charged with prescription drug crimes

A grand jury has charged a former officer from the Pittsburgh area with conspiracy and drug crimes. The man allegedly used his former police uniform to convince a doctor into giving him blank prescription drug pads. He allegedly arrived at the doctor’s office wearing his old uniform and told the doctor that he needed the prescription pads for use as part of a sting operation, The doctor, who apparently knew the man and had treated him in the past, alerted authorities when he grew suspicious.

The former officer has now said that he had become addicted to prescription painkillers after suffering from a work-related injury several years ago. After that, he allegedly began his illegal prescription operation. It is alleged that he sought prescriptions for Roxicodone, which is a powerful opiate. He is accused of providing drugs to other addicts, who helped him distribute the drugs. He allegedly sold the drug for $15 per pill. 

Man arrested in Pennsylvania for selling 'Theraflu' heroin

A Pennsylvania man was recently arrested for allegedly selling heroin under the Theraflu brand name. It is alleged that the product was made only of fentanyl. According to a medical examiner, these particular types of drug sales have caused several overdoses in the western Pennsylvania area.

Fentanyl is a very powerful drug that is normally used to ease the pain of end-stage cancer patients, and it has even been used in anesthesia. Now it is being combined with heroin, which is a potentially lethal combination. The distribution of these types of drugs does not come without its severe penalties.

Man sentenced in Pennsylvania for trafficking cocaine

There are many moving parts to a drug trafficking operation but all parties involved can face serious consequences, regardless of their roles or tenures in the activities. It is important for individuals to understand the consequences of being accused of involvement in such an activity.  

Recently a man received a 20-year prison sentence during a hearing held in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. This sentence came from the man’s conviction at trial last year of conspiracy charges associated with a brief role in a drug trafficking network that allegedly moved cocaine from the West Coast to Pittsburgh. 

Philadelphia man admits trafficking drugs

After a sting called “Operation Weed Whacker,” police arrested eight men for allegedly transporting marijuana from California to southeastern Pennsylvania in May 2013.  Authorities say the drug trafficking ring had racked up a profit of $15 million by the time the arrests shut it down.

The drug trafficking was uncovered after a number of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, followed up on a tip with wiretaps, surveillance, and finally buying marijuana from some of the men named as conspirators. Police arrested three of the men in the act of drug distribution.

Pennsylvania to tackle heroin distribution

The recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the alleged cause of a heroin overdose, has happened at the same time as Pennsylvania authorities are taking a deeper look at their drug policies. As they investigate over 20 deaths in the Pittsburgh area, which are believed to be caused by drug sales of a substance described as tainted heroin, it is becoming clear the heroin overdoses are only a symptom of a pervasive problem.

Authorities blame the increase in heroin use in Western Pennsylvania on an increased number of people addicted to prescription drugs such as Oxycontin and Percocet. Heroin is less expensive and can provide a more intense high than certain prescription drugs. Plus, with heroin, the addicts do not have to search for physicians who will prescribe the other types of medications.

Pittsburgh Steeler objects to NFL marijuana ban

Though says he does not use the drug himself, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark says that some of his teammates use marijuana for the relief of stress and pain. While the possession of marijuana or a failed drug test will still trigger consequences for NFL players, there is a growing chorus of players opposed to the league ban.

Some players feel marijuana is more effective at controlling pain and less addictive than prescription painkillers. Clark cited relaxed drug testing, and noted that players can easily skirt the rules and avoid getting caught using marijuana. 

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