The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 23, 2013

10th man admits role in drug ring

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — A Sharon man has pleaded guilty to racketeering and drug charges, the 10th to do so in a joint investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office and state police into a Farrell-based cocaine distribution ring.

Howard T. Owens, 46, of 135 Smith Ave., pleaded guilty Feb. 11 to being a member of a corrupt organization and delivery of cocaine.

The amount of cocaine attributed to Owens is a little more than 1 pound, prosecutors said.

The AGs’s office, which is prosecuting the case, withdrew 41 other counts.

A state grand jury accused Owens of selling cocaine 12 times in Farrell and once in Hermitage to an undercover state trooper between May 19 and Nov. 1 of 2010. Most of the sales were in increments of 1 to 2 ounces, with the last sale totaling nearly 4 ounces, the grand jury said.

The cases of two men associated with Owens are pending. Travis W. Black, 27, of 330 Lincoln St., Farrell, is accused of being a cocaine source for Owens, and Ronald L. McLean, 62, of 138 Wallis Ave., Farrell, has been charged with delivering cocaine to the trooper on Owens’ behalf four times.

The drug ring was run by Jason T. “Pizzle” Pinkins and distributed more than 200 pounds of cocaine in Mercer, Lawrence and Beaver counties.

Pinkins, 38, formerly of Farrell, is serving a prison term of 12 years, 3 months to 26 years.

Of the 13 men charged with being members of the ring – Black is not among them – two cases remain unresolved, and one case was dismissed.