Conor James Lamb (born June 27, 1984) is an American attorney, former United States Marine, and the Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district. Lamb was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh, where he worked to combat the opioid epidemic by leading prosecutions of cases involving opioid-related deaths, violent crimes, and gun trafficking.[1] He is the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district special election, 2018.[2][3][4][5] Occurring outside of normal election schedules, the special election is attracting national attention.[6][7][8]

Early life, family, and education

Lamb was born in Washington, D.C. on June 27, 1984 to Thomas F. Lamb, Jr. and Katie Lamb. He grew up in Mt. Lebanon Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The Lamb family has been active in Pittsburgh-area politics for many years. Conor’s grandfather, Thomas F. Lamb, served as the Democratic Majority Leader in the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1970–1974, and later served as Secretary of Legislative Affairs under Governor Robert P. Casey.[9] Conor’s uncle, Michael Lamb, is the current Controller of the City of Pittsburgh, and was previously the Prothonotary of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Lamb attended St. Bernard School in Mt. Lebanon, and graduated from Central Catholic High School (Pittsburgh) in 2002 and self-identifies as Catholic.[10] He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 with a degree in Political Science, and earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2009.

Military service

After law school, Lamb completed Officer Candidates School (United States Marine Corps) and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He was stationed at the Marine base on Okinawa Island, where he prosecuted cases of rape and sexual assault. Lamb completed his active duty service in 2013 and joined the Marine Corps Reserves. In a high-profile case in 2017, he prosecuted and convicted a Marine officer who had lied under oath and to The Washington Postabout a sexual misconduct case.[11]

Assistant U.S. Attorney

From 2013–2014, Lamb completed a one-year clerkship with Joseph Frank Bianco, a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Following that, in October 2014, Lamb was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States Department of Justice‘s Pittsburgh office, serving under then-U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David J. Hickton. Lamb has been heavily involved in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Western Pennsylvania, and has led aggressive prosecutions involving opioid-related deaths, other violent crimes and drug and gun trafficking.

Notable cases

“Uptown Crew” gang prosecution

In 2015, Lamb won convictions against three men who were among 34 members of a heroin gang indicted in 2013 after a wiretap investigation by the FBI, the ATF, the state attorney general’s office and local police. Thomas Hopes, described as the “CEO” of the violent heroin-distribution operation, was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison, and brothers Keith and Gregory Harris were sentenced to 20 years and 121 months in prison, respectively.[12][13] Lamb also helped win convictions against two New Jersey-based men, Aldwin Vega and Santino Drew, who were identified as two of the biggest suppliers of heroin to the Pittsburgh area. Vega was convicted at trial in September 2017 for trafficking a kilogram or more of heroin, and has not yet been sentenced. Drew was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession with the intent to distribute heroin, and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.[14][15]

Pittsburgh-to-New York gun-running prosecution

In 2016, Lamb won convictions against two Pittsburgh residents, Brandon Goode and Mychael Scott, who acted as “straw buyers,” purchasing firearms for a gun trafficker to help funnel hundreds of illegal weapons into New York City. Goode and Scott were sentenced to 65 and 60 months in prison, respectively.[16] Lamb also secured a conviction against the main gun trafficker, Michael Bassier, who was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.[17]

Andre Saunders

In 2016, Lamb secured a conviction against Andre Saunders, a drug dealer from Fayette County, Pennsylvania who imported hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin from the West Coast into the Uniontown area and West Virginia and supplied heroin and cocaine to multiple dealers in the Uniontown area. Saunders was convicted of conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine and sentenced to 10 years in prison, and was ordered to forfeit his BMW, five luxury watches and a necklace, $325,120 in cash, his Uniontown home, the proceeds of the sale of a second Uniontown home, a 9 mm pistol, and a money judgment of $100,000.[18]

Dorian Cottrell

In 2016, Lamb won a conviction against Dorian Cottrell, a heroin dealer who shot a man during a drug transaction at the Cambridge Square apartments in Monroeville, PA. Cottrell was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison and was ordered to forfeit his BMW, $27,000 in cash and 10 firearms.[19]

2018 congressional campaign

On October 5, 2017, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Lamb is considering running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, a seat left open when Rep. Timothy F. Murphy was suddenly forced to resign amid revelations that he had an extramarital affair and urged his mistress to terminate an unexpected pregnancy, despite his long record as a vocal opponent of abortion.[20]

Lamb was selected as the Democratic nominee at a convention in November 2017