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Hempfield man sentenced to federal prison for meth trafficking

A Hempfield man will spend up to 10 years in a federal prison for his role in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, according to court records.

In addition to the prison term, a federal judge on Wednesday also ordered Zachary Miller, 28, to forfeit five guns. He will spend five years on supervised release after he gets out of prison.

From September 2017 through August 2020, Miller and four others — including his brother — are accused of plotting to acquire and sell 500 grams or more of a meth mixture to users in Allegheny, Westmoreland and other counties, according to the indictment. Investigators learned that the network involved people associated with the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, prosecutor said.

Miller, who prosecutors said belonged to the Jeannette outlaw biker chapter, used Facebook messenger to set up transactions with users and dealt the drugs out of a shed on a relative’s property. State police pulled him over in February 2020 and found 6 ounces of meth in the vehicle’s trunk, according to federal prosecutors.

“The prosecution certainly hopes that Mr. Miller’s early acceptance of responsibility for his actions is a sign that he recognizes the error of his ways and will not engage in this type of conduct (or any criminal conduct) once released from custody,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.

In September, Miller pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute.

Defense attorney Charles Porter requested that Miller be sent to a prison close to family and be permitted to attend drug rehabilitation treatment while incarcerated, according to court filings. Letters from family and friends to the court described Miller as an intelligent, popular person who has cared for his father after an accident.

In addition to the five guns, Miller was ordered to forfeit ammunition and a self-defense baton with “SS” engraved on it, according to court filings.

In December 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh announced drug trafficking and firearms possession charges in three cases against 30 defendants from Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio tied to the Pagans.

A target of the two-year investigation was Bill Rana, 41, of Cheswick, who prosecutors described as a “fully patched” Pagan and Sergeant of Arms for the Pittsburgh chapter.

“For decades, the Pagans have used violence to control cocaine, heroin and meth trafficking throughout Western Pennsylvania. That stops now,” then-U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said at the time. “With the arrests of 30 members and associates of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, including higher-ranking members, we have disrupted their criminal organization and made Western Pennsylvania safer.”

Federal prosecutors in recent years have charged Pagans and associates from New Jersey to Key West, Fla., in cases involving meth trafficking and other alleged crimes.

Dennis “Rooster” Katona, a former national Pagan leader, was ordered to report to state prison in July to resume serving his sentence stemming from a drug conviction based on a 2011 raid of his Hempfield home. Katona, 55, had about five months left on his 40-to-80 month sentence before becoming eligible for parole.