A reputed associate of the North Jersey organized crime family that served as inspiration for "The Sopranos" television series pleaded guilty Tuesday to distributing cocaine, the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey said.

James Heeney, 36, of Elizabeth, admitted that between August 2012 and March 2013 he took part in the sale of more than half a kilogram of cocaine to an undercover FBI agent, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a release.

Heeney was among 10 people arrested earlier this year for alleged crimes related to their involvement with the DeCavalcante crime family, an organized crime syndicate based in Elizabeth, N.J. and notorious for its long and violent history.

David Chase, the creator of HBO's mega-hit "The Sopranos," has said he drew inspiration from the DeCavalcante organization. The family has its roots in the early 20th century umbrella group, La Cosa Nostra.

Heeney faces a minimum of five years in federal prison. He will be sentenced March 23, 2016.

Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.
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