WILLIAMSPORT - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Raymond Howard, age 45, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was convicted on October 26, 2020, after a five-day jury trial before U.S. District Court Judge Matthew W. Brann, on drug trafficking charges.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the jury deliberated approximately one hour and found that from October 2016 to July 2017, in Lycoming County, Howard engaged in a conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and a mixture of heroin and carfentanil.
During a three-day period in June 2017, there was a rash of drug overdoses in Williamsport. At the time, UPMC Susquehanna in Williamsport and Wellsboro reported treating 51 such cases within a 48-hour period.
The trial team offered evidence that Howard and his coconspirators Wayne Davidson, Markeese Askew, and Nathan Crowder used cell phones to arrange for the distribution of heroin and, specifically, a mixture of heroin and carfentanil that resulted in number of overdoses from June 28 through July 7, 2020. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Howard’s three coconspirators Davidson, Askew, and Crowder all pleaded guilty earlier in October and face minimum sentences of 11 years’ imprisonment. In total, Howard and the three coconspirators were charged with delivering a mixture of heroin and carfentanil that resulted in serious bodily injury to eight individuals.
The case was investigated by the Lycoming County District Attorney’s Office Narcotics Enforcement Unit, Montoursville Police Department, Old Lycoming Township Police Department, South Williamsport Police Department, Williamsport Bureau of Police, Pennsylvania State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Alisan V. Martin and Geoffrey W. MacArthur prosecuted the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce crime. This case was brought as part of a district wide initiative to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin.
This case was also 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 to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who commit heroin related offenses.
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.
Howard faces 30 years to life imprisonment, a term of supervised release 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.