Former Greensburg police chief pleads guilty to methamphetamine and cocaine conspiracy


Date: April 16, 2024


Pittsburgh, PA — The former chief of police for Greensburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to engaging in a drug conspiracy, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today.

Shawn Denning of Delmont, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon to one count of conspiracy to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine and a quantity of cocaine.

As part of his guilty plea, Denning admitted that, while serving as a captain of the Greensburg Police Department and continuing through his tenure as chief of the department, he conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine (in the form of fake “Adderall” pills) and cocaine to individuals in the Western District of Pennsylvania and across the country, including in Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma. Denning boasted to a DEA confidential source that he could connect the source with “heavy hitters” across the country who would deliver drugs through the mail, later sending the source drug menus and prices, vouching for the source to the narcotics suppliers, communicating with the suppliers, and otherwise facilitating narcotics transactions. Toward the end of the investigation, Denning was recorded in an undercover operation discussing the drug conspiracy with the confidential source and admitting to his conduct.

Denning also admitted that he conspired with former Greenburg police officer Regina McAtee, whom Denning used to purchase drugs from the suppliers and then as a source for drugs for himself when McAtee received the orders. McAtee was charged by a separate criminal Information and is scheduled to plead guilty on May 1, 2024.

“Instead of catching drug dealers, Shawn Denning chose to be one by participating in a cross-country methamphetamine and cocaine conspiracy,” U.S. Attorney Olshan said. “Holding corrupt public officials accountable when they betray their oath to protect and serve the community remains a priority of this office and our partners in the law enforcement community.”

Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for August 13, 2024. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than five years and up to 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $5 million, or both. Under the federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Nicole Vasquez Schmitt is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI), Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multiagency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.