A gun-toting Pittsburgh criminal with a long history of felonies is headed to federal prison for 24 years on his conviction for shooting a man during a 2017 Lincoln-Lemington robbery and leaving him for dead.

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan on Wednesday gave Deon Reese, 48, of Chateau, that term for the shooting and for violations of his probation on a previous federal offense.

Reese was convicted at trial in January of Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy and firing a gun during a crime of violence. He was found not guilty of possessing ammunition.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Maloney said Reese deserves more than he got for his “horrendous” criminal history that began at age 14.

He said Reese has 21 priors dating to that time and should be considered a career offender eligible for 30 years to life.

But because of court rulings determining that Hobbs Act robbery is no longer considered a crime of violence — despite the fact that Reese shot a man in the chest — his guideline range was 271 to 308 months.

Maloney asked the judge to vary upward to 360 months anyway to reflect Reese’s true record, but Ranjan declined. 

The Hobbs Act, passed in 1946, prohibits robbery or attempted robbery or extortion that affects interstate commerce.

On March 23, 2017, Reese was on probation for a 2008 federal gun conviction when he invaded Jaymein Fossett-Washington’s residence in Lincoln-Lemington and shot him in the chest at point-blank range.

The victim didn’t die but almost did; he needed six surgeries. After Reese was arrested, police said he engaged in a campaign to persuade Fossett-Washington not to cooperate with authorities.

Maloney said he asked his co-conspirator, Zaire Mauro, who had helped him set up the robbery, to bribe the victim into not coming to court to testify and to provide a false story about why Reese’s phone was in Fossett-Washington’s house.

Reese put that request in a letter to Mauro and reiterated that intention again in a recorded jail call with her, saying he would be fine “as long as that person doesn’t show up.” Reese knew he was being recorded because he warned Mauro that “this shit’s monitored.” 

Fossett-Washington did testify in state court, however, and identified Reese as the man who shot him. Reese then began calling his pals to ask them to pressure Fossett-Washington into not cooperating any further. It didn’t work. 

Maloney said Reese also tried to obstruct justice by obscuring his handwriting in an effort to prevent law officers from connecting the writing sample with the letter he wrote to Mauro. A police expert said it was a deliberate attempt to disguise his writing. 

Maloney also recounted Reese’s history of violence and law-breaking, which includes leading police on a high-speed chase in his early 20s and a variety of other offenses. In 2007, he tried to break into his girlfriend’s apartment while carrying a gun he couldn’t have because he’s a felon. He was prosecuted federally in that case and sentenced to 90 months. 

Reese’s lawyer, William McCabe, asked that his client only be sentenced to 180 months in the current case. He said Reese, a father of six, has suffered in prison previously, saying he’d been raped by another inmate in 2010 and then stabbed and raped again in 2011 because other inmates thought he was a snitch. 

“Mr. Reese believes that when he returns to the BOP [Bureau of Prisons] to serve his sentence in this case, he will again be labeled a snitch, and his life will continue to be threatened, and he may be injured or killed or even raped again,” McCabe said. “This factor may similarly warrant some mitigation in sentencing.” 

McCabe said a second robber involved in the case was never identified. Mauro was prosecuted in state court and convicted. 

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at jtorsteno@gmail.com.

Torsten Ove

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at jtorsteno@gmail.com.