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February 14, 2014

1 man imprisoned, 2nd released for drug crimes

SHENANGO VALLEY — Two men who have admitted drug offenses were sentenced this week, Maurice Davis to 10 years in prison and Travis W. Black to time served.

Davis, 29, pleaded guilty in September to a charge of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute stemming from an April 12, 2012, search of Davis’ home at 421 Malleable St.

State police had made controlled buys of drugs from Davis and charged him with selling 2.4 grams of crack to an informant for $180 Jan. 20, 2012, at his home.

When police went to arrest Davis on charges related to that buy, they found marijuana on his kitchen table.

Police obtained a search warrant for the home and a drug dog indicated an area in the kitchen pantry. Police found a trap door and turned up crack and powder cocaine, marijuana and 20 painkilling Roxicet pills.

The amount of cocaine was 6.4 ounces, and the amount of marijuana was 4.9 ounces.

Police also seized $4,550, which prosecutors alleged was earned through drug sales, two digital scales and other drug paraphernalia.

State police initially filed the charges in state court based on the controlled buy and the search and those cases are pending.

A separate case, in which Davis is charged with attempted homicide and other offenses for shooting a woman in the leg Jan. 5, 2011, on the sidewalk in the 700 block of Idaho Street, Farrell, also is pending.

Assistant Mercer County District Attorney Tedd C. Nesbit said the continuation of the state charges partly hinges on Davis’ federal sentence, and no determination had been made as to whether to proceed with the state charges or ask that they be dismissed.

Davis was considered a career offender under federal sentencing rules, and his guidelines sentence was 21.8 to 27.75 years in prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Gustave Diamond, Pittsburgh, however departed from the guidelines in settling on 10 years.

Davis will serve 5 years’ supervised release once he gets out of prison, and was ordered to forfeit the money found at his home.

Black, 27, formerly of Farrell, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute powder cocaine.

Prosecutors allege Black was involved in the sale of cocaine three times in 2010, Sept. 1, Oct. 29 and Oct. 31, in a parking lot on Sharon-New Castle Road in Farrell.

Black is a peripheral figure in the probe by the state Attorney General’s Office and state police of a Farrell-based cocaine distribution ring in which 13 men have pleaded guilty to racketeering and drug charges.

Black was a source of cocaine for Howard T. Owens, 46, of Sharon, who was sentenced in July to 5 to 10 years in state prison. The two men talked on the telephone at least twice a day for the 47 days Owens’ phone was wiretapped, police said.

The sales to an undercover state trooper were made by Owens or his “runner,” Ronald L. McLean, 62, of Farrell, who was sentenced in October to 1 year less 1 day to 2 years less 1 day and 8 years’ probation.

Police said they observed Black meeting with Owens either in Black’s home or outside Owens’ home to supply Owens with cocaine.

Black will serve 3 years’ supervised release.

Judge Joy Flowers Conti also sentenced Black to time served for violating probation on a 2008 guilty plea to a drug conspiracy charge.

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