Just before entering the plea, George Parr made a last-ditch effort to get the prosecutor to give him favorable consideration when time came to recommend a sentence.
"I'm giving you 100 percent conviction," Parr told Deputy District Attorney David W. Zellis.
But Zellis was not moved. "I've got that from almost everybody else," he responded.
For each count, Parr, 51, of Elm Avenue in Croyden, faces up to 20 years in prison.
His plea was a highlight of a case that began with an undercover drug
purchase by state Trooper Jeffrey T. Backenstoss in August 1989 and culminated with the arrest of 41 suspects in December 1990.
Along the way, investigators recorded thousands of hours of phone conversations that helped them to build the case, said Zellis. Ultimately, those recordings led to the convictions of all but a handful of the defendants.
Last month, Judge Isaac S. Garb rejected defense motions that sought the suppression of the tape-recordings. After Garb's ruling, 10 more defendants quickly lined up to enter guilty pleas.
Twelve remained poised for trial last week, but by week's end, four more chose to plead guilty.
The turning point in the case against Parr came Thursday, when Mark Laird, Parr's former brother-in-law and considered the number-two distributor in the ring, agreed to testify against him. In return, prosecutors agreed not to seek a mandatory five-year sentence for Laird's wife, Lisa, who was among the defendants.
Laird, 24, a Bristol Township resident who said he had as many as 30 regular customers, testified yesterday that George Parr was his superior and supplier.
"I did what I was told (by Parr), basically," said Laird, who was sentenced in July to 20 years with a mandatory minimum of eight years in prison.
Parr, a short, rotund man with shoulder-length hair and a beard, uttered a hushed "yes" to each question posed to him by Garb.
Parr disputed some of the amounts he was accused of delivering, but conceded that he was unclear on many of the details of the deals. He said he often was "whacked out" on "boat," a combination of marijuana and liquid PCP.
"In fact," he said, "one time my beard caught fire and I didn't know it and people were smacking my face."
Theirs was not an organization that flashed wealth or luxury, Zellis said. Much of the profits were used to support the dealers' personal drug habits and, because they were unemployed, the needs of their families.
"We're not talking about Miami Vice-type drug dealers," Zellis said. ''Basically, the money went to support all of the people in the organization."
Despite the plea, both Parr and his attorney, Wallace Bateman, suggested yesterday that Parr was not as powerful as the prosecution contended.
Bateman said that at Parr's sentencing, which has not been scheduled, he will argue that Parr was not the head of the organization. He also said he would dispute the amounts involved in the drug deals.
Zellis, however, said there was "overwhelming evidence" against Parr, whose five-bedroom house has been targeted for forfeiture by the District Attorney's Office.