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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
August 27, 2002


Assistant Special Agent James Harper of the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Pittsburgh District Office and United States Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced that Maurice Larue Peterson, a resident of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, pled guilty in federal court to charges of violating the federal drug and firearms laws. Peterson, age 25, of 250 Cedar Ridge Drive, Monroeville, PA, pled guilty to two counts before Senior US District Judge Maurice B. Cohill. DEA was assisted in this investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the City of Pittsburgh Police Department.

In connection with the guilty plea, Assistant United States Attorney Troy Rivetti advised the court that beginning in approximately 1999, and continuing until May 30, 2002, Peterson and others were involved in a conspiracy to distribute over one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin throughout the greater Pittsburgh area. On April 9, 10 and 11 of this year, agents and detectives involved in this investigation utilized a confidential informant to make three controlled purchases of heroin from Peterson. On each day, the informant placed recorded calls to Peterson to "order up" the heroin and on all three occasions, one of Peterson's regular assistants arrived to deliver the drugs.

In addition, on March 29, 2002, Pittsburgh Police Officers conducted a traffic stop of Peterson, during which they observed in plain view a black 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol with a 4-inch barrel, Model 17C. Peterson was convicted of a felony drug-trafficking offense in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on February 1, 2000, and under federal law, Peterson is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

On May 30, 2002, Peterson was arrested in connection with the instant federal charges. Search and seizure warrants also were executed on his residence and vehicles, and the agents seized, among other things, a .50 caliber semiautomatic handgun, a 2000 navy blue Mercedes Benz Sedan, and $16,267 in U.S. Currency. The agents also seized photographs of Peterson holding large sums of cash, and Peterson holding a handgun. In connection with his guilty plea, Peterson acknowledged responsibility for distributing upwards of three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of heroin.

Judge Cohill scheduled sentencing for December 17, 2002. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of $4,000,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any of the defendants. Peterson has been detained since his arrest on May 30, 2002.

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