Guilt in drug case ad­mit­ted

The Republican Herald - - POLICE/ COURT - con­tact the writer: pbort­[email protected]­pub­li­can­her­; 570- 628- 6014 BY PETER E. BORT­NER STAFF WRITER

A Pottsville man could spend the rest of his life in fed­eral prison af­ter ad­mit­ting Thurs­day in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Scran­ton that he con­spired to dis­trib­ute more than a pound of metham­phetamine in and around Schuylkill County.

Ani­bal L. Ro­driguez, 27, pleaded guilty to con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute more than 500 grams of metham­phetamine.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Robert D. Mar­i­ani ac­cepted Ro­driguez’s plea, or­dered prepa­ra­tion of a pre­sen­tence re­port and said he would sched­ule sen­tenc­ing at a later date.

Ro­driguez ad­mit­ted in his plea that be­tween July 2016 and May 24,2017, he par­tic­i­pated in the con­spir­acy, U.S. At­tor­ney David J. Freed said Fri­day.

In fact, ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment, Ro­driguez or­ga­nized and led the con­spir­acy, and also used threats or vi­o­lence in con­nec­tion with car­ry­ing it out, ac­cord­ing to Freed.

A fed­eral grand jury in­dicted Ro­driguez and three other peo­ple in Au­gust 2017 in con­nec­tion with the con­spir­acy. The other three con­spir­a­tors, David Cas­tro, Ernest Scha­ef­fer and Lav­erne Scha­ef­fer, also all have pleaded guilty and are await­ing sen­tenc­ing.

Ro­driguez faces a max­i­mum pos­si­ble sen­tence of life in prison for his crime. He is in prison while await­ing sen­tenc­ing.

The Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion, Penn­syl­va­nia State Po­lice and lo­cal po­lice in Schuylkill County in­ves­ti­gated the case, which is be­ing pros­e­cuted by As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Fran­cis P. Sempa.

Pros­e­cu­tors brought the case as part of Pro­ject Safe Neigh­bor­hoods, a pro­gram bring­ing to­gether all lev­els of law en­force­ment and the com­mu­ni­ties they serve in an ef­fort to re­duce violent crime and make neigh­bor­hoods safer. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice rein­vig­o­rated the pro­gram in 2017 in a re­newed ef­fort to tar­get violent crim­i­nals.

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