By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER — John H. Crosby was convicted of drug crimes in 1996 and 1998, but found legitimate work and kept himself out of trouble for a number of years.
However, the man known as “Saucy” and “Sausage” got laid off from his good-paying job in October 2008 and reverted to his old ways.
”He got back into this lifestyle to make money and support his family,” said defense attorney Ronald D. Amrhein.
While he was sat in jail waiting for his case to be resolved, Crosby has missed some significant life events, including the birth of a daughter and the death of his mother.
Crosby, 39, formerly in Farrell, was sentenced Wednesday to 5 to 10 years in state prison Ð his previous incarcerations each were for 6 months to 1 year - but it could have been worse for him.
Crosby pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to charges of delivery of cocaine and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
”I would like to apologize to my family for my actions and apologize to the court for wasting its time,” Crosby said.
Crosby was a member of a ring led by Jason T. Pinkins, which officials said distributed more than 200 pounds of cocaine in Mercer, Lawrence and Beaver counties.
Crosby was a regular customer of Jason Pinkins or Phillip Pinkins, Jason’s cousin, according to a state grand jury report. Crosby sold cocaine to his own customers, and also at the direction of Jason Pinkins, the report said.
Crosby sold cocaine to an informant four times in July, September and October 2010, all in Farrell, providing a total of 3.2 ounces, the grand jury said. On one occasion, Crosby brought his two children to the site of the deal, the report said.
Jason Pinkins is serving a sentence of 12 years, 3 months to 26 years in prison and Phillip Pinkins is serving 3 to 6 years in prison.
The quantity of cocaine tied to Crosby topped 100 grams - 3 ounces - which comes with a 7-year mandatory prison term and a mandatory $50,000 fine.
The state Attorney General’s Office - which is prosecuting the case and investigated it with state police - agreed that, for sentencing purposes on the drug charge, the amount of cocaine would be 99 grams, dropping the mandatories to 5 years and $30,000, both of which Senior Judge John C. Reed imposed.
Amrhein, in further arguing for a favorable sentence, said Crosby pleaded guilty and not no contest, as some other members of the ring had done, and the 5-year mandatory is a little higher than the sentences for some others in the hierarchy of the ring.
Reed made the sentence for conspiracy - 1 to 3 years - run at the same time.
Crosby is eligible for an early release program and could get out in 4 years, 2 months if he behaves himself in prison.
Crosby was credited for 616 days he has spent in Mercer County Jail, and ordered to pay $4,675 restitution to cover the cost of the drug deals and laboratory tests.