Codefendants handed lengthy sentence in federal drug case
Two codefendants in a federal drug case were handed lengthy prison sentences Monday for conspiring to sell heroin in Northumberland and Columbia counties.
Renard Durant, 27, will serve 8 1/2 years and Gilberto Lanzot Jr., 33, will serve 5 1/4 years. Each must serve four years supervised probation upon release.
It was recommended by U.S. Middle District Court that both also be placed in a 500-hour drug treatment program to treat their histories of substance abuse.
Durant, Lanzot and Shelton Cochrane II, 37, signed agreements in April pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge, confessing to possessing with the intent to sell 100 grams of heroin and 28 grams of crack cocaine.
Cochrane was sentenced last month to five years for his role.
Additional charges were dismissed against all three men.
A fourth codefendant, Jeffrey Tripp, 27, was set to be sentenced on June 11. Court filings on that date have been sealed.
All four were alleged to have committed the crimes as members of a street gang named Almighty Renegade Gangsta Bloods. Both Cochrane and Lanzot denied gang affiliations in separate sentencing memorandums, and Lanzot also denied traveling to New York to buy drugs. Durant did not refute gang implications in a sentencing memorandum. Court documents say all three are related.
Durant's parents both were drug addicts, according to a sentencing memorandum. He has used marijuana since 11 years old, was "emotionally overwhelmed" at a young age after being charged to be "the man of the house," and quit school his sophomore year.
Court documents state Durant has not profited from the drug trade because it appears he is penniless; same goes for Lanzot.
Lanzot was an alcoholic at 15 and has abused heroin and other drugs over the past six years, a sentencing memorandum states. His addiction complicated his personal life and kept him from capitalizing on his having obtained a certification in masonry.
Prosecutors say cash and guns were traded to buy drugs in the Hazleton area of Luzerne County as well as New York and New Jersey. Drugs, guns, cash and gang literature - writings on oaths, bylaws, alliances and gang hierarchy - were all stored at various locations, including at homes in Shamokin, Mount Carmel, Kulpmont and Bloomsburg, according to court records.
They allegedly sold the drugs in Northumberland and Columbia counties beginning around July 2011 through their arrest in June 2012.
Durant and Tripp were indicted by a grand jury in June 2012 on charges of distribution of heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana in Northumberland and Columbia counties. A superseding indictment following in December 2012 charging Cochrane and Lanzot. A second superseding indictment was returned in March.
All four originally pleaded not guilty.
Tripp was the first to change his plea, doing so in December and cooperating with prosecutors. The others changed their pleas in April, which was approved in May, and avoided trial.