PITTSBURGH, PA — A resident of Shaler, Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty in federal court to violating federal drug trafficking laws, U.S. Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

James Crivella, 29, pleaded guilty to one count before U.S. District Judge Robert J. Colville.

As part of the guilty plea, the court was told that the Greater Pittsburgh Street Safety Task Force, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had conducted a long-term investigation into drug trafficking activities in the Western District of Pennsylvania, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Erie, Fayette and Washington counties.

Beginning in August 2020 and continuing through November 2020, the Court was further informed that the FBI conducted a federal Title III investigation, which resulted in the interception of thousands of wired and electronic communications on a total of ten phones. Crivella was intercepted on phones operated by co-defendant Jeffrey Kushik.
During intercepts, investigators determined that “little Jimmy Crivella,” as Kushik called him, was a low-level heroin trafficker for Kushik in Shaler Township, meeting with Kushik’s drug clients to perform the transaction in close combat.

Crivella, at the hearing, accepted responsibility for the sale and/or could otherwise foresee the possession/distribution of 40-60 grams of heroin.

Judge Colville set the sentence on July 14, 2022 at 1 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based on the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski is pursuing this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the multi-agency investigation into this case, which also included the United States Postal Inspection Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pittsburgh Police Department, and the Narcotics Investigation Bureau of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Other assisting agencies include the Allegheny County Homicide Department, Baldwin Police Department, Brentwood Police Department, McKees Rocks Police Department, Stowe Township Police Department, and West Deer Township Police Department.

This lawsuit is the result of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OECDTF). The OECDTF identifies, disrupts and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities across the United States. The OECDTF employs a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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