PITTSBURGH, PA – The vice-president of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, Pittsburgh Chapter pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of violating federal firearms laws, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.
Patrick Rizzo, 46, formerly of McKees Rocks, PA 15136, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Robert J. Colville.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force conducted a long-term investigation into drug-trafficking and illegal firearms activity occurring in the Western District of Pennsylvania, involving, among others, members and associates of the Pagans Motorcycle Club (MC), Pittsburgh Chapter. One of the targets of the investigation was Pagans MC Vice President, Patrick Rizzo.
Beginning in August of 2020 and continuing through November 2020, the FBI conducted a federal Title III investigation, which resulted in the interception of thousands of wire and electronic communications over a total of ten telephones, one of which was Rizzo’s.
In connection with his guilty plea, Rizzo admitted that on October 17 and 18, 2020, over intercepted communications, Rizzo and other members of the conspiracy discussed Rizzo possessing a “Judge” – that is, a Taurus Judge revolver. Then, on October 21, 2020, Rizzo acknowledged that he was the subject of a lawful traffic stop by City of Pittsburgh Police (PBP) after he nearly caused an accident in downtown Pittsburgh. After smelling marijuana coming from the inside of the vehicle, Rizzo was patted down, and a marijuana roach was found on his person. Law enforcement searched his vehicle and located a Black Taurus Judge revolver with five live rounds, as well as a black holster for the firearm in the center console. Rizzo further admitted that he has a prior felony conviction and could not lawfully possess that firearm.
Further, in connection with his guilty plea, Rizzo also admitted that on December 8, 2020, law enforcement executed a federal search warrant at his apartment and located two additional handguns, one of which was stolen as well as related magazines and 165 rounds of ammunition. Further, law enforcement seized marijuana, packaged for resale, as well as user quantities of heroin and cocaine and paraphernalia related to using controlled substances. Rizzo admitted that in addition to his prior felony conviction, which prohibited him from possessing these firearms and ammunition as well, it was also illegal for him to possess them because he was an unlawful user of and addicted to controlled substances.
Judge Colville scheduled sentencing for October 26, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. Rizzo remains in custody pending sentencing.
Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the multi-agency investigation of 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, Pennsylvania State Police, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Bureau of Narcotics Investigations. Other assisting agencies include the Allegheny County Police Department Homicide, Baldwin Police Department, Brentwood Police Department, McKees Rocks Police Department, Stowe Township Police Department and West Deer Township Police Department.
This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses 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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