In 2014, attorney Daniel Muessig created an advertisement for his law practice and posted it on YouTube.
In the funny, over-the-top video that had more than 150,000 views, he urged people to hire him to represent them in court because, he said, “I think like a criminal.”
Now, seven years later, Muessig finds himself in the role of an actual criminal.
The 39-year-old pleaded guilty Tuesday to two felony counts in federal court in Pittsburgh — conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
The government said the amount of illegal drugs attributable to Muessig was between about 220 and 880 pounds. He faces prison time when he is sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab in March.
Federal prosecutors said Muessig, along with another man, Wayne Barker, operated a drug stash house at a home on Covode Street in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill.
Investigators with the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets task force, who had a wire tap and then set up surveillance at the house, saw people involved in the conspiracy carrying large black trash bags with green stickers identifying the strain of marijuana to vehicles. Then, around 9:30 a.m. on May 24, 2019, Muessig was seen carrying a black backpack into the house.
About 40 minutes later, two more men arrived at the house and went inside.
Later, investigators said that Muessig and another co-defendant, Hector Rodriguez, carried two large boxes from the house and put them in a Dodge Ram parked in the next-door neighbor’s driveway.
After the Dodge pulled out, police pulled it over. Inside the boxes Muessig and Rodriguez had carried out, they found $400,000, the government said.
A subsequent search of the residence resulted in the discovery of boxes full of marijuana, packaging material, a vacuum sealer and money counter.
The marijuana weighed 404 pounds. There was an additional $5,012 seized from the residence, as well.
Muessig is facing a five-year mandatory prison sentence. However, there is a provision in federal court called the “safety valve” that would allow for a reduced sentence if he can meet several requirements, including proving that he was not a leader of the organization and that he did not use weapons or violence in his crimes.
If Muessig qualifies for the reduction, the advised prison term would be 30 to 37 months.