Woman Pleads Guilty in Return to Sender Drug Trafficking Investigation

LegalImage by Mike Braun

PITTSBURGH, PA — A resident of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to violation of federal narcotics, firearms, and money laundering laws related to a nine-month Title III wiretap investigation into drug trafficking in and around the counties of Jefferson, Clearfield, and Allegheny, announced United States Attorney Cindy Chung.

Kristy Lepionka, age 40, pleaded guilty on Friday, January 20, 2023, to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possesses with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, on count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon before United States District Judge Christy Criswell Wiegand. Lepionka was one of 47 defendants charged in six related indictments as part of the Return to Sender investigation.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Lepionka received parcels that were shipped from California to the Western District of California containing a total of between 5 kilograms and 15 kilograms of methamphetamine. Investigators searched Lepionka’s residence on August 31, 2021, pursuant to a federal search warrant and seized over a small amount of methamphetamine and a firearm, which Lepionka is prohibited from possessing due to a prior felony conviction.

Judge Wiegand scheduled sentencing for Lepionka on May 18, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. The law provides for a sentence of not less than ten years to a maximum of life in prison, a fine not to exceed $10,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

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The court ordered that the defendant remain on bond pending sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan D. Lusty and Michael R. Ball are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

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