Attorney General Cuomo Announces Indictment Of 13 Niagara Falls Residents For Operating Cocaine Distribution Ring

 

BUFFALO, N.Y. (January 22, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the indictment of 13 Niagara Falls residents for operating a cocaine distribution ring.

The indictment charges the 13 with cocaine conspiracy, possession, and/or sale, and is the result of a 6-month long investigation known as “Powder Dream” that was led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF). The drug distribution ring was allegedly based in a local Niagara Falls tavern.

“New Yorkers should not and will not tolerate drug rings operating in their communities,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Breaking up this highly organized distribution network is an important victory that makes Niagara Falls a safer place to live and do business. This is another example that the tireless efforts at all levels of law enforcement are paying off.”

The case is part of Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing Upstate Guns, Gangs and Drugs Initiative which has led to the charges against 274 individuals statewide since its inception in early 2007.

According to court records, the cocaine distribution ring was led by Dewayne Holland, 26, of South Avenue, Niagara Falls. Holland allegedly purchased cocaine from sources extending from Niagara Falls to Cleveland, Ohio to then sell to co-conspirators and their customers.

Beyond allegedly purchasing cocaine from Holland, the 12 other co-conspirators provided assistance to Holland by arranging time and places for sales, delivering the drugs, introducing new customers, and assisting in the “cutting” of cocaine. Holland sold the cocaine mainly at the Waterworks Tavern on Buffalo Street, Niagara Falls. Robert Leo, 42, of Colonial Drive, Niagara Falls, is charged as a co-conspirator and is owner of the Waterworks Tavern. He allegedly allowed Holland and the other defendants to sell and consume cocaine at his bar.

The Attorney General gratefully acknowledges the assistance provided by the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the leadership of Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John Chella.

Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John Chella said, “The Niagara Falls Police Department treasures its relationship with the Attorney General’s OCTF. This investigation, which culminated in the arrests today, is another instance where we have teamed with the Attorney General’s Office to improve the quality of life for Niagara Falls residents. We look forward to continuing this relationship.”

Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante said, “I applaud the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force for shutting down a cocaine distribution operation in Niagara Falls. This is just another example of law enforcement agencies all working together to keep drugs off our streets and out of our neighborhoods.”

Holland was charged with second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, and conspiracy in the fourth degree, all felonies.

The other 12 indicted and their charges are as follows:

  • Diana Giarizzo, 40, of 101st Street, Niagara Falls; charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.
  • Dan Gravelle, 48, of Rhode Island Avenue, Niagara Falls; charged with fourth degree conspiracy, a felony, and seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
  • Chonte Holland, 21, of South Avenue, Niagara Falls; charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fourth degree conspiracy, felonies.
  • Leah Jakobi, 42, of 74th Street, Niagara Falls; charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree conspiracy and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
  • William Janese, 28, of 76th Street, Niagara Falls; charged with fourth-degree conspiracy, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
  • Robert Leo, 42, of Colonial Drive, Niagara Falls; charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
  • Robert Nelson, 45, of Makoon Avenue, Niagara Falls; charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
  • Ed Mayberry, 52, of 56th Street, Niagara Falls; charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree conspiracy.
  • John Rucci, 55, of C Street, Niagara Falls; charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
  • Gerald Simmons, 42, of Niagara Falls; charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree conspiracy and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
  • Joseph “Bone” Williams, 35, of Jordan Gardens, Niagara Falls; charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fourth-degree conspiracy.
  • Charles Winker, 43, of 75th Street, Niagara Falls; charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Kevin Kane of OCTF’s Buffalo Office, under the supervision of Robin L. Baker, the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice, and OCTF First Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff. The investigation was led by OCTF Supervising Investigator Peter J. Talty and OCTF Investigator Ever Quinones.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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