By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
A Farrell man that local police allege is part of a gang that spread mayhem and drugs throughout the city will be spending 5 years, 10 months in federal prison.
Tyrell P. Wells, 24, formerly of Mary Street, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Maurice B. Cohill Jr., Pittsburgh, on charges of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
Wells’ sentence was not as long as prosecutors had asked for - at least 7è years - nor as short as Wells had asked for, 5 years plus 1 day.
The gun charge carried the mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years, with the addition that it be served consecutive to any other sentences.
The federal charges stem from a call at 4:22 p.m. May 28 of a man with a gun in the 200 block of Wallis Avenue, Farrell, Southwest Mercer County Regional police said.
Police spotted a car matching the description of one involved in the Wallis incident on Union Street and followed it to Landay Apartments, also on Union.
Wells and another man ran from the car, police said.
Wells was seen shortly afterward walking out of a home in the 700 block of Hamilton Avenue, out of breath and sweating, police said.
Police found a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun and a bag containing a half ounce of crack in a trash can at the rear of the home, police said.
About 4è hours after the initial report, Wells placed a telephone call to Mercer County Jail inmate Dashawn Scott, police said. In the call, which was recorded, Wells told Scott he was followed by police to “the ville,” which police believe refers to Landay’s nickname of “Freak Village.”
He said he ran from police with “Terran,” who police said refers to Terran Paige-Hughes, who was seen by police after the man with the gun came running in the 700 block of Hamilton.
Wells also told Scott he threw a “hammer,” a reference to a gun, and a “half,” a reference to a half ounce of crack, and that police found “everything,” police said.
Prosecutors and the defense differed as to how to interpret Wells’ conduct and criminal history.
Prosecutors said Wells’ “casual attitude” in the recorded call “illustrates that this was not a mere aberration, but a way of life for the defendant,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric S. Rosen.
But, Assistant Federal Public Defender Thomas Livingston said the call showed a “total lack of sophistication.”
Livingston said the detention has changed Wells and the upcoming transfer to the federal prison system “promise to put Tyrell Wells on a new and ‘inspiring’ path.”
“If he had not been arrested and detained in this case, he would have been immature and drug-addled enough to continue on the path of bad behavior and poor decisions which he had been following,” Livingston said.
Prosecutors wanted to present testimony from a Southwest policeman that Wells was a leader of the gang known as the “Hamilton Boys” or the “1047 Crew,” which has been tied to shootings and drug dealing.
“These activities are highly detrimental to the Farrell community, a town already wrought with significant violence and narcotics trafficking,” Rosen said.
Cohill limited the policeman’s testimony to only the incident for which Wells was charged.
Wells will serve 4 years’ supervised release, and must forfeit the Smith & Wesson.
Wells’ brother, Terrance H. Wells Jr., 26, has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for selling crack and a handgun in 2007, but has not started serving that sentence because of a separate state conviction for trying to run over a probation agent with his car.
Terrance Wells had tried to appeal his federal sentence, but the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia, said in January that Wells gave up his right to appeal in his plea deal with prosecutors.
The court last week refused his request for a rehearing.