Attorney General Cuomo Announces Takedown Of Major Western New York Drug Ring
BUFFALO, N.Y. (April 30, 2009) Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the takedown of a highly organized drug distribution organization which spanned from Southern California to western New York. During the investigation, approximately one and a half kilograms of cocaine, more than 650 grams of marijuana, and approximately $200,000 cash were seized.
Three separate indictments charge 25 people with crimes including Criminal Possession and/or Sale of Cocaine (class A-I felony), Conspiracy to Possess and Sell Cocaine (class B felony), Conspiracy in the Second Degree (class B felony) and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (class E felony), Criminal Sale of Marihuana in the Second Degree (class D felony), and Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Third Degree (class E felony).
Today’s indictments are the result of a 19-month, multi-agency investigation dubbed “The City’s Finest,” which was led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (C-NET), with assistance from the City of Buffalo Police Department, the Town of Hamburg Police Department, and the New York State Division of Parole.
“The drug dealers who invade our communities spread addiction and destroy lives,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This investigation and these indictments speak to the continued infiltration of potentially deadly narcotics into western New York. By targeting ringleaders in the narcotics trade and by working cooperatively, law enforcement at all levels can continue its successes at shutting down these illicit operations.”
New York State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt said, “This collaborative investigative effort, led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, has resulted in a significant seizure and the indictments of 23 individuals in this criminal operation. This sends a strong message to all those involved in trafficking narcotics that New York State will not tolerate these threats in our communities.”
City of Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said, “Once again we are pleased to announce that law enforcement agencies have combined their resources in ridding the streets of Buffalo and our surrounding community of illegal narcotics activity. The suspects who have been picked up in this latest effort - dubbed "The City's Finest" – are charged with some very serious felony crimes. The investigation – first begun by the Attorney General's investigative team - and joined by other state and local agencies, has been successful in putting a large dent in the local drug supply line. This again illustrates not only that criminal activity knows no borders, but that members of law enforcement are prepared to combat this scourge of drug dealing.”
According to the first indictment, Nelson Medina, 31, of Los Angeles, California, was the leader of the operation. He is accused of arranging to have multiple packages containing up to18 ounces of cocaine a week shipped via UPS and Federal Express from Southern California to various addresses in the City of Buffalo, where they were received by Jacob Burkhardt, 30, of Eggert Road, Cheektowaga, who would then cut, package, and sell cocaine to others in the organization.
The additional defendants charged in the first indictment and their alleged roles are:
Richard Cloud, 26, of Hertel Avenue in the City of Buffalo, took multiple ounces of cocaine from Burkhardt and resold it to others.
Kenneth Mitchell, Jr., 26, of Tonawanda, New York, bought multiple ounces of cocaine from Cloud and resold it to others.
Robert Carpenter, 29, and Antonio Imperi, 25, both of Buffalo, New York, and William Davis, were multi-ounce cocaine customers of Mitchell and resold the cocaine to others.
Andre Parsons, 25, of Buffalo, New York; Christopher Bermel 24, Joseph Flitt, 22, and David Castle, 18, were cocaine customers of Cloud and resold the cocaine to others.
The Grand Jury charged Nelson Medina, Jacob Burkhardt, Richard Cloud, Kenneth Mitchell, Jr., Robert Carpenter, Antonio Imperi, Andre Parsons, Christopher Bermel, Jermaine Locke, Joseph Flitt, and David Castle with Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a class B felony), punishable by up to 8⅓ to 25 years in prison.
Nelson Medina, Jacob Burkhardt, Richard Cloud, Kenneth Mitchell, Jr., Robert Carpenter, William Davis, and Antonio Imperi are also charged with Criminal Possession and/or Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree (class A-I felonies), punishable by up to 24 years in prison.
Those charged in the second indictment and their alleged roles are:
Kenneth Mitchell, Jr., 26, of Tonawanda, regularly sold quarter ounces of cocaine to Jason Chudzik, 24, of Woodford Drive, Lakeview, New York.
William Herdman, 43, of Pinehart Road, Angola, New York, and Eric Williamson, 27, of Blasdell, New York, regularly sold cocaine to Jason Chudzik.
Kip Lewis, 46, of Burning Springs Road, Versailles, New York; Creighton Miller, 38; and Walter Edinger, 56, of Howell Street, both of Buffalo, New York, also sold cocaine to Chudzik.
The second indictment also alleges that Jason Chudzik resold cocaine to others, including:
Travis Yates, 21, of Versailles Road, Lakeview, New York; Matthew Hoak, 31, of Harvard Street, Hamburg, New York; and Michael Bannister, 29, of Nelson Avenue, Blasdell, New York. The indictment alleges Yates, Hoak and Bannister then resold that cocaine to others.
Kenneth Mitchell, Jr., Jason Chudzik, William Herdman, Creighton Miller, Eric Williamson, Kip Lewis, Michael Bannister, Matthew Hoak, Travis Yates, and Walter Edinger are all charged with Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (a Class E felony), punishable by up to four years in prison. These defendants are also charged with Criminal Possession and Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree (a Class B felony), which is punishable by up to nine years in prison.
Eric Cole, 24, of 5029 Morgan Parkway, Hamburg, New York, and Chris Winder, 26, of 6972 Putnam Drive, Evans, New York, are charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Those charged in the third indictment and their alleged roles are:
Julie Daniels, 27, regularly sold marijuana to Kenneth Mitchell, Jr., 26, of Tonawanda, and Garrett Kelly, 23, both of whom resold it to others.
Mitchell, Daniels, and Kelly are charged with numerous counts of Criminal Sale of Marihuana in the Second Degree (class D felony), punishable by up to 2 ½ years in prison. These defendants are also charged with Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Third Degree (class E felony), punishable by up to 1 ½ years in prison.
The Attorney General thanked the New York State Police, the City of Buffalo Police Department, the Town of Hamburg Police Department, and the New York State Division of Parole.
This case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Robert J. Lee, under the supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin L. Baker and OCTF First Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff. The investigation was handled by Supervising Investigator Peter J. Talty, under the supervision of OCTF Chief Investigator Thomas Mullen.
This case began in June, 2007 when Trooper Matthew Stegner from Troop "T" conducted a traffic stop on the New York State Thruway, which resulted in the arrest of a subject for possession of Narcotics. Trooper Stegner was able to develop information from this arrest which he turned over to CNET Western, resulting in a long term investigation into the distribution cocaine in the Buffalo area culminating with today's arrests.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.