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The head of a large-scale cocaine ring that operated out of bars in northern Erie County and Niagara County was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to eight years in prison.

Keith Simmons, of North Tonawanda, is one of the last of 23 defendants to be sentenced in connection with a case that involved two popular bars in Wheatfield – JT Wheatfield’s on Ward Road and Papa Joe’s on Niagara Falls Boulevard. Authorities say the defendants used the bars to distribute cocaine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. McCabe and defense attorney Cheryl Meyers Buth both credited Simmons with cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise in 2010.

Simmons, who has admitted in the past to being the “organizer and supervisor” of the drug ring, told Arcara that he regrets what he did and is eager to move on with his life once he’s out of prison.