Heroin dealer gets 15-plus years in ‘Hard­core En­ter­tain­ment’ case

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Local news - By Torsten Ove

The last mem­ber of a New Jer­sey-supplied heroin ring ship­ping up to 2,000 bricks a week for dis­tri­bu­tion across the Pitts­burgh re­gion is headed to prison for more than 15 years.

U.S. District Judge Reg­gie Wal­ton, a vis­it­ing judge from Wash­ing­ton, D.C., im­posed a term of 190 months Fri­day on Lance Yar­bough, with credit for time served for a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion.

Yar­bough was part of a drug or­ga­ni­za­tion call­ing it­self “Hard­core En­ter­tain­ment” that bragged on YouTube videos about its prow­ess in deal­ing heroin, which it trans­ported on the Penn­syl­va­nia Turn­piketo Duquesne.

He was among 19 peo­ple in­dicted three years ago in U.S. District Court fol­low­ing a wire­tap in­ves­ti­ga­tion by local po­lice and the FBI. He and his cousin, An­thony Pryor, were the only ones to go to trial. They chose a bench trial, and Judge Wal­ton con­victed them both.Pryor is serv­ing 140 months.

Judge Wal­ton said that Yar­bough was among the Hard­core lead­ers, al­though his lawyer, Pa­trick Liv­ingston, ar­gued that he was a “bit player” and not de­serv­ing of the heavy sen­tences the ring­leaders re­ceived.

“Lance Yar­bough is not a per­son who moved the nee­dle in the

con­spir­acy,” Mr. Liv­ingston said.

But the pros­e­cu­tion said he was a sig­nif­i­cant dealer, and the judge agreed, at­tribut­ing more than 58 ki­los of heroin to him for sen­tenc­ing pur­poses. The judge said heroin is de­stroy­ing neigh­bor­hoods here and across the coun­try, and stiff fed­eral sen­tences show that “there are con­se­quences.”

Yar­bough, who is in his 30s, said he wants to change. “I just want to apol­o­gize to my fam­ily and the com­mu­ni­ties I hurt,” he said. “Hope­fully, I can just put this all be­hind me.”

His trial was un­usual in that four gov­ern­ment wit­nesses re­fused to tes­tify de­spite be­ing granted im­mu­nity, and the judge sent all to prison for con­tempt of court. The judge also threat­ened jail spec­ta­tors who were watch­ing the trial be­cause some of them were mouthing off in court. His warn­ing stopped that.

Fed­eral agents and gov­ern­ment wit­nesses said Hard­core used driv­ers as couri­ers in trans­port­ing heroin from New Jer­sey to Pitts­burgh. In the YouTube videos, Hard­core mem­bers openly boasted, pos­ing with stacks of cash and flash­ing gang signs.

The FBI built the in­ves­ti­ga­tion on con­trolled buys, sur­veil­lance and cell phone taps, with many of the mem­bers be­com­ing wit­nesses.

The case be­gan with the 2010 in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Manch­ester OGs on the North Side. In­ter­cepted mes­sages re­vealed that Corey Thomp­son was the leader of Hard­core in Duquesne.

Hard­core rep­re­sented the rem­nants of a pre­vi­ous gang run by Angie Morgan and her son, Michael Mil­ton, who led a ring in Duquesne in the mid-2000s.

They went to prison, and the new leader be­came Christo­pher Thomp­son and his brother, Corey Thomp­son. They went to prison, too. Next came Donte Yar­bough, Lance’s brother, along with the late Lawrence Short. Don­teis also in prison.

Hard­core’s main sup­plier in New Jer­sey was Khayri Bat­tle, a for­mer pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball player in Europe.

He was among the gov­ern­ment wit­nesses who re­fused to tes­tify and was sent to prison.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.