Man gets prison time for drug conspiracy role

JOHNSTOWN – A Northern Cambria man was sentenced to 110 months in prison and four years of supervised release for his role in a drug conspiracy.

A federal grand jury indicted Thomas Lighthill, 45, 2006 Bigler Ave., and five others in October for violating federal narcotics and firearms laws by possessing and conspiring to distribute heroin April 2012 to March 8, 2013.

U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson imposed the sentence on Lighthill Tuesday, according to a release from U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.

Lighthill had been facing a maximum total sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $5 million or both.

Another member of the conspiracy pleaded guilty Monday to two charges, and a third was sentenced last week.

The others are awaiting court dates.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Valkovci prosecuted the case.

Valkovci asked for a prison sentence of 110 months because of Lighthill’s extensive criminal background.

He said Lighthill had 24 criminal convictions in the past 25 years.

Lighthill has a criminal offense score – a point system used in sentencing – of 19. Valkovci said the chart only goes up to 13.

Gibson imposed the minimum sentence requested by the prosecution and in the process talked about Lighthill’s background.

He said Lighthill came from a broken home. He was physically abused by his mother and his mother’s boyfriend.

The defendant began using alcohol at age 7 and marijuana and opiates at age 11. By age 18, he was using cocaine and eventually ended up as a heroin addict.

The judge concluded Lighthill had “a significant drug addiction problem.”

He ordered that Lighthill, while in prison, enter a 500-hour drug treatment and education program.

A young woman, also a heroin addict, spoke on Lighthill’s behalf, stating he helped her with her habit, and she told the judge, “I know he wants to be a better person.”