PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of the Monessen, Donora, and West Mifflin areas of Western Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to a total of 345 months of incarceration on his conviction of federal drug charges, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
United States District Judges Arthur J. Schwab and David S. Cercone imposed sentences yesterday on Maurice Kenneth Frezzell aka “Reece”, age 35. Judge Schwab imposed a sentence of 327 months on Frezzell as a result of his recent conviction at trial for selling two “bricks” of heroin, containing a total of 1.784 grams of heroin, to a confidential informant. A “brick” is a street term for 50 stamp bags of heroin or other opiates. Judge Cercone added an additional 18 months of incarceration for committing the crimes while on federal supervison.
U.S. Attorney Brady said, “Maurice Frezzell is a career criminal and one of the most significant heroin and fentanyl dealers in Washington County. He and his drug organization are responsible for overdose deaths throughout the county, and the people of Washington County are safer today now that he is behind bars. The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting heroin and fentanyl dealers like Frezzell – through the Opioid Strike Force – to the fullest extent of the law.”
During the sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that Frezzell was a much larger heroin dealer than the modest drug buy would indicate. Testimony of DEA Task Force Officer Charles Tenny, who is also a Detective Sergeant with the Canonsburg Police Department, indicated that Frezzell was identified by the federal investigation as one of the highest-ranking members of the drug trafficking organization that has plagued Western Pennsylvania, and Washington County more specifically, in recent years. The federal investigation began in August of 2015 when large numbers of individuals began overdosing on high quality heroin and the much more deadly synthetic opiate fentanyl. Many of those people succumbed from the use of drugs packaged in stamp bags marked “Made in Columbia.”
The government’s evidence implicated Frezzell as the source of drugs that have caused multiple overdoses investigated by the federal government. Charts submitted as evidence at the sentencing showed that in 2014, when Frezzell was serving his prior federal sentence for drug dealing, there were 1.77 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in Washington County. In 2016, after Frezzell was released on supervision, the number jumped from 1.77 to 51 per 100,000 residents. The Washington County Coroner’s Office supplied statistics showing that a total of 62 people had died of overdoses in the 10 years between 1992 and 2002, for an average of six people per year. That number was 73 in 2015 alone, and increased to 109 in 2016. A map of the Washington County locations where the victims overdosed showed that the majority of the deaths were within five miles of locations associated with Frezzell.
According to evidence presented to the Court, Frezzell began his criminal career when he was only 12 years and 3 months old and sexually assaulted a female victim twice in the same day. His second arrest occurred days later when he was arrested with crack cocaine. The government noted that Frezzell was sentenced during his multiple juvenile cases to penalties which include: curfew, probation, house arrest, electronic home monitoring, Agape Day Treatment, Glen Mills School for Boys, Mel Blount Youth Home, Vision Quest Boot and Hat Camp, and ultimately, Abraxas. The defendant was still on juvenile probation when he committed his first adult crime at the age of 18, when he was intoxicated and fled police with a concealed handgun with the serial number obliterated. Overall, the defendant has had 23 arrests during the 23 years between his first crime and his current conviction. Frezzell has spent essentially the entire 23 year time from the age of 12 either: pending trial; in jail; on supervision; and/or wanted for crimes. Frezzell is pending additional felony drug charges as a result of federal authorities executing a search warrant and locating approximately two pounds of marijuana, multiple vials of injectable steroids, several methamphetamine tablets and an amount of the highly concentrated form of THC commonly called “wax” or “shatter” at his residence.
Since Frezzell committed his new crimes while being supervised by the United States Probation Office after serving 80 months in federal prison for his last drug trafficking crime, Judge Cercone sentenced Frezzell to an additional consecutive period of 18 months incarceration for violating his federal supervision.
Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Schwab noted that the defendant had a “significant criminal history,” called the defendant a “Career Offender” and stated that the sentence was “sufficient, but not greater than necessary.”
Assistant United States Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt, a veteran federal prosecutor with the Violent Crime and Major Crime Sections of the United States Attorney’s Office, prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
A group of law enforcement officers from the DEA, the Monessen Police Department, the Canonsburg Police Department, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the IRS conducted the investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of Frezzell. United States Attorney Brady commended the officers, agents, and detectives for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Frezzell.