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Man sentenced on weapons charge says he's turned his life around

A Pittsburgh man who authorities once described as one of the top drug traffickers in Western Pennsylvania says he is a changed man since his release from prison after six-plus years. Federal prosecutors appear to agree. Despite recently charging the man with a weapons crime, the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case worked out a plea agreement in which the man was sentenced to four months in prison, with most of that being credited as time served.

It is possible that the prosecutor agreed to the relatively light sentence due to the defendant retiring from drug dealing since his prison sentence ended in November 2009. His arrest on federal drug charges in 2002 was so-high profile that then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft made a personal appearance in Pittsburgh to announce it. The defendant, now 38, was sentenced to life in prison under the federal Continuing Criminal Enterprise Act, which requires a life sentence for those found to have been at the top of a drug conspiracy.

The man cooperated with prosecutors in other cases, resulting in his sentence being reduced twice. After his sentence ended, the man says, he turned his back on his old life. He got a job and regularly attends church. "I've definitely changed for the best," he said.

In accepting the sentence on Feb. 4, the federal judge presiding over the case said that she could see that the man was on the road to rehabilitation. Including time served, the man should complete his four-month sentence within a few weeks.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Former drug kingpin gets four months for carrying stolen gun," Brian Bowling, Feb. 4, 2013

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