- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A man who helped fly cocaine from California to Pittsburgh will spend 20 years in federal prison in a scheme that unraveled when he lost track of a carry-on bag containing more than 40 pounds of the drug.

Forty-five-year-old Ruben Mitchell, of Stockton, Calif. was sentenced Monday by a federal judge in Pittsburgh.

Defense attorney William Kaczynski (kah-ZIN’-skee) argued for a lesser sentence, saying Mitchell quit the drug business after he lost the bag on Pittsburgh-bound flight in February 2009.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross Lenhardt told the sentencing judge Mitchell “didn’t quit, he was fired.”

Investigators say a flight attendant put the bag in the plane’s cargo hold because it wouldn’t fit in an overhead luggage compartment. The bag was then mistakenly unloaded during a layover in Las Vegas, where the drugs were found.

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