A Carrolltown man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Johnstown to conspiring to help launder money from alleged drug trafficking.

The drug distribution network allegedly was headed by George M. Lowmaster.

Paxton D. Clark, who is related to the Lowmaster family through marriage, kept hundreds of thousands of dollars in a safe at his house for the ringleader, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Valkovci said.

Lowmaster, 31, of Carrolltown, is in Cambria County Prison awaiting trial on multiple federal charges.

When federal and local authorities, armed with search warrants, raided the Clark residence last May, they found $440,670 in cash in the safe, Valkovci said. Later, Clark turned over an additional $6,000 cash that he found in a mailbox on his back porch, Valkovci said.

Clark, 42, of the 100 block of Hite Street, will be sentenced Oct. 12 by U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson on the single felony conspiracy charge. He faces up to 20 years in prison and/or $500,000 in fines, plus forfeiture of some property.

The defendant began storing the proceeds from the drug trafficking in February 2011, the judge was told.

“George Lowmaster brought the cash in a plastic grocery bag, and they sat on the kitchen floor to count it and put it in stacks of $1,000 into sandwich bags,” Valkovci said.

According to Valkovci, Lowmaster made at least one visit a week to Clark’s house either to bring money or retrieve it.

The “street money” of small bills in denominations of $5, $10 and $20 was being converted by other ring members at area banks into $100 bills to make for easier mailing, Valkovci said. Lowmaster was mailing Express Mail packages containing $40,000 cash to a supplier in Oregon, who then supplied large amounts of marijuana to the Lowmaster ring, federal authorities have said.

Timothy Golby of Northern Cambria, owner of the Mr. Pizza Shop in that borough, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to money laundering. He is awaiting sentencing by Gibson.

So much money was being changed that at least one area bank told Golby to let them know when he would be coming in so they would have supply of the $100 bills on hand, Valkovci said.

The amount being changed usually was $9,000, according to Valkovci.

Both Clark, who is employed as a laborer by Carrolltown Borough, and Golby are free on bond while awaiting sentencing.

The supplier, Brian V. Knee, 31, of Eugene, Ore., in July pleaded guilty in the marijuana operation. Knee, who grew up in the northern Cambria County area, is awaiting sentencing.

In addition to the marijuana, the Lowmaster ring also trafficked in cocaine, oxyocodone and methadone, authorities have said.


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