Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Another Shenandoah Man Pleads Guilty To Participating In Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

SCRANTON—On Tuesday, The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a 27-year-old Shenandoah resident connected to a large-scale heroin trafficking ring that operated in Schuylkill County during 2012 through September 2015, pleaded guilty yesterday before Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley in Scranton.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Nicolai Varga pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin. Varga admitted to distributing heroin and transporting other drug traffickers to New York, Patterson, New Jersey, and Hazleton to obtain large quantities of heroin on multiple occasions. Varga was involved in transporting and distributing between 400 grams and 700 grams of heroin, which is equivalent to between than 13,000 and 23,000 retail bags of heroin.

Varga was indicted by a federal grand jury in Scranton in September 2015, as a result of an investigation by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigators from the Pennsylvania State Police, and local police in Schuylkill County.

Judge Munley ordered a presentence investigation to be completed, and scheduled sentencing for April 28, 2016. Varga faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Three co-defendants—Rhashean Strange, Carlos Correa, and Paul Jadus—have also pleaded guilty to participating in the drug conspiracy. Four other co-defendants are awaiting trial in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the cases.

This case was brought as part of a district wide initiative to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the heroin initiative targets heroin traffickers operating in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and is part of a coordinated effort among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law is 40 years in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.