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Buffalo drug dealer faces maximum 40 years imprisonment following guilty plea

A Buffalo man faces a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison and a maximum 40 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to drug-related charges and skipping out on a court appearance, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Lawrence Russell, 41, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute and to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, 28 grams or more of crack cocaine and failure to appear in court after his pre-trial release.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, who is handling the case, between January 2013 and Jan. 23, 2015, Russell conspired with others to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine.

On six occasions between May 2014 and January 2015, Russell sold quantities of cocaine or crack cocaine to an individual working with the FBI. Four of the six sales occurred at Russell's 14th Street residence.

Russell was indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 15, 2017, and on March 3, 2017, he was released on conditions, that included electronic monitoring.  Prosecutors said Russell cut off his ankle monitor on Dec. 1, 2017, and fled after admitting to his probation officer that he had violated a no-alcohol condition of release. The probation officer directed Russell to report to his office but Russell failed to comply. On Jan. 9, Russell failed to appear for a scheduled change of plea hearing and remained at large until May 23, when he was apprehended by the U. S. Marshals Service in North Carolina.

Russell is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 29.

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