Four men and a woman were indicted in Pittsburgh by a federal grand jury for trafficking in fentanyl and heroin.
Charged are twins Brad and Greg Reed, age 26, of Pittsburgh, Richard Ruby, age 31, of Pittsburgh, and Justin and Antoinette McBride, ages 26 and 29, of Munhall. Ruby and Justin McBride are cousins to the Reeds.
The five people have been linked to many overdoses, according to United States Attorney Scott W. Brady. Two of the connected overdoses were fatal, and four were non-fatal. The non-fatal overdose victims needed naloxone to be revived.
Court documents say that the five conspired together to possess heroin and fentanyl with the intention of distributing and that they distributed the drugs during a period beginning in January of 2014 and continuing until December 2017.
The first injury, according to prosecutors, came around December 8, 2016, caused by drugs distributed by Brad Reed. A December 31, 2016 injury was caused by his twin, Greg Reed.
Justin McBride is accused of causing a death around January 30, 2017, and an injury on July 1 of that year.
Additionally, the five are accused of maintaining “various premises for manufacturing and distributing heroin and fentanyl.” Specific locations cited include a house on Lytle Street in Hazelwood used and maintained by the Reeds, an apartment on West Street in Munhall used and maintained by the McBrides, and a house on Glenwood Avenue in Hazelwood used and maintained by Justin McBride and Ruby. Heroin and fentanyl were allegedly manufactured and distributed at all three locations.
Included with the drug charges is a charge that the McBrides possessed a firearm “in furtherance of the drug trafficking conspiracy.” The firearm was a Taurus .380 caliber pistol, black in color.
Prosecuting the case are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heidi M. Grogan and Timothy M. Lanni.
Convictions for the charges the Reed twins and Justin McBride face come with a minimum prison sentence of 20 years, though it could go as high as life in prison, and fines of up to $2 million. Antoinette McBride and Ruby, if convicted, will receive prison sentences of at least five years and as many as 40 years and fines of $5 million. Actual sentences will be based on prior criminal history, if there is any, and the seriousness of the offenses.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Western District of Pennsylvania Opioid Task Force was the investigating body in the case. The unit has investigated and charged dozens of people from Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, as well as other states, in an effort to stop drug trafficking in the district. Members of the task force include Officers from the following police departments: West Mifflin, Port Authority, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County (police and Sherriff’s departments), and Munhall. Also represented are the Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s Office, and FBI Special Agents.
U. S. Attorney Brady has vowed to relentlessly pursue drug dealers, identifying them and prosecuting them. He promises to reduce overdoses in Western Pennsylvania and protect the citizens.
There are several defenses the lawyers for the parties could use to help their clients. The first thing they might look at is search warrants: were there any, and were they proper warrants without errors on them. If those are all in order, the attorneys can look at entrapment. Did the investigators trap the defendants in any way? Another thing the lawyers will look at will be the quantity of drugs seized, if any were. A small amount could indicate that there was no intent to distribute them. All this being said, the deaths and injuries add a twist to it all, and I would not be at all surprised if more charges are not filed against these five people.
Even with convictions for these crimes, the Reeds, McBrides, and Ruby could be sued in civil court by the families of the overdose victims. I can see these charges haunting this group of people for the rest of their lives.