PITTSBURGH – A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges involving guns and drugs, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Chance Rice, 26, pleaded guilty yesterday to three counts before United States District Judge Cathy M. Bissoon.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Rice was involved in three separate investigations. The first occurred as a result of the September 16, 2015, candlelight vigil shooting. There, multiple people were injured, and multiple guns were fired, as family members and friends held a vigil for the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of a teenage boy in Homewood. The joint investigation between the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police revealed that the person who fired one of the guns during the vigil shooting later transferred his gun to an individual who was subsequently shot and killed. Before his death, that person transferred the gun to Rice, and Rice transferred it to a defendant named Keith Lovelace. Lovelace and Rice have both been prosecuted in federal court, while the shooter is pending state charges.
The second incident started when Rice told his former girlfriend that he had recently been shot at and that she needed to buy a gun for her own protection. Rice quickly obtained possession of that gun. On October 31, 2015, Edgewood Police officers stopped the vehicle Rice was driving and noticed a spent casing on the dashboard and a black pistol in the car. Rice fled in the vehicle and was a wanted fugitive until his December 18, 2015 arrest. Recorded jail calls include Rice telling others to make sure that an acquaintance puts the gun in his safe. On March 17, 2016, the acquaintance’s residence was searched by Pennsylvania State Parole Agents who located Rice’s gun in the acquaintance’s safe. The acquaintance is also pending federal charges.
Rice had a prior Allegheny County felony conviction in 2014 for carrying a firearm without a license. This conviction made it illegal for Rice to subsequently possess a firearm or ammunition, under federal law.
Finally, Rice was being housed in the Butler County Jail while his cases came to court. On July 10, 2018, the Deputy Warden arranged to have Rice’s cell searched and drug-soaked paper was located. The lab determined that the paper contained a substance called 5 Flouro ADB, a type of synthetic marijuana. In Court, Rice admitted to possessing this drug to provide to other inmates.
Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for June 3, 2019 at 10 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of up to 50 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court ordered that the defendant remain incarcerated.
Assistant United States Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The ATF conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Rice with the valuable cooperation of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the Edgewood Police Department and the Butler County Jail.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.