PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two of three suspects facing state drug charges in last month’s multi-million dollar drug bust in Penn Hills will be tried in federal court, and the case of the third is likely to be tried in federal court as well.
In April, investigators found $10 million worth of cocaine and hundreds of thousands in cash during an investigation that led them to a hotel in Monroeville, and a home in Penn Hills.
This morning during what was supposed to be a preliminary hearing before a district judge in Penn Hills, prosecutors announced they were withdrawing state charges, yielding to a federal prosecution.
“Because they have indicted it, they have taken jurisdiction over the case,” said defense attorney Robert Stewart. “The charges were withdrawn here so there are no longer state charges pending, there’s no longer a $750,000 bond pending against my client but he is federally detained and he’ll have to answer these charges in federal court now as opposed to state court.”
Stewart’s client, William Wilson, whose home was involved, could face a mandatory 20 years in prison if convicted in federal court. It’s a factor in the change of prosecution.
“It’s the amount of money, $600,000 as well as what was seized – 21 kilos of cocaine is a rather significant amount for Allegheny County in a state prosecution. Normally you see that over a period of time,” said Stewart. “It’s very common in federal court they’d find that amount. The resources are a little different with what they can do as far as prosecuting, additionally, there were weapons found as well.”
A third suspect, Saistino Hernandez Rodriguez of Mexico, originally identified as David Carbajal, will learn next month whether his case will also be tried in federal court. But most observers believe that case will also be transferred from state to federal court.