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Accused drug kingpin convicted on conspiracy charges

Updated: March 13, 2014 12:25AM

David Price sold heroin.

His attorney admitted it in federal court.

But the accused kingpin went on trial this month for drug conspiracy charges — not for selling heroin. So, defense attorney Michael Thompson split hairs in front of a jury last week and argued his client “didn’t conspire with anyone” when he sold the drugs.

It didn’t work.

A jury deliberated about an hour Tuesday night and Wednesday morning before convicting Price, 34, on all 13 counts leveled against him for running a six-year drug conspiracy in Chicago. He could face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison when he returns to U.S. Judge Harry Leinenweber’s courtroom July 30.

Thompson said his client sold heroin to fund his lavish lifestyle, which included a Corvette, a suburban mansion and a $35,000 watch encrusted with 1,018 diamonds totaling about 22 karats.

Price lived in Brookfield at the time of his August 2012 arrest, but he’s also lived in Country Club Hills, Darien, Lombard, Bolingbrook and downtown Chicago, authorities said.

A home he kept in DuPage County had a circular driveway and a fountain. He also used friends and families as fronts for purchases and $1,000-a-week luxury car rentals, arming himself with a 9 mm Uzi-style gun, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Fayhee said.

Thompson didn’t return a call seeking comment after the verdict.

Fayhee said Price — known as “Shorty,” “Lil Dave,” and “Hot Sauce” — oversaw an army of street-level sellers and mid-level dealers, making “tens of thousands of dollars a week” until he eventually became a millionaire.

Prosecutors promised a bevy of “insiders” from Price’s organization would testify Price directed them to cut heroin with sleeping pills and package it for sale.

Price also allegedly dispatched two members of his crew in January 2008 to kill James Brown, one of the witnesses who testified against him, according to prosecutors.

Brown survived that shooting, which was ordered because Brown owed money to Price and Price thought Brown was cooperating with law enforcement, prosecutors said.

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