United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania

01/31/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/01/2023 09:43

Pittsburgh Felon Sentenced to Life in Prison for Drug and Gun Crimes

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Pennsylvania
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pittsburgh Felon Sentenced to Life in Prison for Drug and Gun Crimes

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to life imprisonment plus 20 years of incarceration on his conviction of violating federal narcotics and firearm laws, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon imposed the sentence on James "Al Taric" Byrd, age 46. Judge Bissoon also recommended to the Bureau of Prisons that the Bureau of Prisons house the defendant in a maximum-security prison as far away from the Western District of Pennsylvania as possible.

According to evidence presented at trial, Byrd possessed with intent to distribute quantities of mixtures and substances containing detectible amounts of cocaine, cocaine base (also known as crack cocaine), heroin, and marijuana. Byrd also possessed a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon and carried and possessed said firearm during and in relating to a drug trafficking crime.

Specifically, on Feb. 23, 2015, a complainant called 911 to request police assistance regarding Byrd's behavior outside of the victim's home. The complainant detailed the threats Byrd was making towards the victim and noted that he said he had a gun. Officers arrived on the scene and approached Byrd's vehicle. Byrd got into an altercation with officers and then attempted to flee on foot. Once apprehended, officers recovered marijuana, crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. The search of Byrd's vehicle revealed a loaded firearm, ammunition, a bullet proof vest, two cellphones and heroin.

In its Sentencing Memorandum, the government outlined the defendant's prior serious criminal history and other misconduct. Dating back to 1998, the defendant's convictions include Aggravated Assault, Carrying a Firearm without a License, and other offenses. The conduct for these cases includes shooting people as well as the kidnapping and robbery of a drug dealer. The government's Sentencing Memorandum also addressed additional violent and threatening conduct and the more than 70 prison misconduct reports that defendant accumulated at the Allegheny County Jail.

Assistant United States Attorneys Brendan T. Conway and Benjamin J. Risacher prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

United States Attorney Chung commended the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives and the McKeesport Police Department for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Byrd.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses