Attorney General Cuomo Announces Takedown Of Staten Island Cocaine Ring

NEW YORK, N.Y. (February 18, 2009) Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the indictment of 10 people for taking part in a highly organized cocaine distribution organization which spanned from Southern California to Staten Island.

The indictment charges 10 people with possession and/or sale of cocaine and conspiracy to possess and sell narcotics.  Today’s indictment is the result of a 6-month, multi-agency investigation known as “Operation Espadrille,” which was led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and also involved the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office.

Richard Fallacaro, 33, and Joseph Fallacaro, 35, brothers, both of Staten Island, are accused of importing between six and 15 kilograms of cocaine a week from their suppliers in the San Diego area, Christopher Chacon and Michael Platt.  Chacon and Platt would ship the cocaine via UPS and Federal Express to various locations in Staten Island and New Jersey.

“Gone undetected, drug traffickers deteriorate communities and shatter the lives they trespass into,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “I’m proud of the success we’ve had here today with the joint efforts of this city’s top law enforcement officials, and look forward to more collaborative operations to ensure that our citizens, our businesses, and our streets are kept safe.”

The Fallacaros allegedly paid approximately $18,500 per kilogram and would then sell it at a profit of several thousand dollars. The Fallacaros would on occasion sell drugs from their family’s business, Jojo’s Auto Parts at 125 Page Avenue in Staten Island. 

They would then make the payment for the cocaine to Chacon and Platt in three different ways to avoid detection.

  • They would deposit $9,000 or $9,500 into designated accounts at Washington Mutual Bank in Staten Island, which would be withdrawn the same day in Southern California, thereby dodging the federal banking reporting requirements for cash transactions
  • Nicole Fallacaro, Richard Fallacaro’s wife at the time, would conceal thousands of dollars in toys or clothing which would then be sent back to Chacon in California via UPS
  • Chacon and/or Platt would come to Staten Island to personally transport the cash back to California.

The Grand Jury charged Richard Fallacaro, Joseph Fallacaro, Nicole Fallacaro, Chacon, Platt, Michael Urciuoli, Stephen Sabella and Paul Noto with the Possession and/or Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree (class A-I felonies), punishable by up to 24 years in prison.  These defendants and James Geller and Heather D’Amico were also charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, conspiracy to commit A-I drug felonies, a crime punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

Those indicted and their alleged roles are:

  • Richard Fallacaro, 33, of Amaron Lane, Staten Island, who was in charge of the Staten Island cocaine distribution operation.
  • Joseph Fallacaro, 35, of Amboy Road, Staten Island, Richard Fallacaro’s right hand man.
  • Nicole Fallacaro, 32, of Rockaway Avenue, Staten Island, who took delivery of the packages of cocaine and packaged money hidden in toys and clothes to be sent back to California.
  • Christopher Chacon, 35, of El Cajon, California, the California source of supply
  • Michael Platt, 34, of San Diego, California, the California source of supply
  • Michael Urciuoli, 44, of Sprague Avenue, Staten Island, customer of the Fallacaros who would then cut the cocaine and resell it.
  • Stephen Sabella, 42, of Craig Avenue, Staten Island, customer who would buy the cocaine with Paul Noto.
  • Paul Noto, 29, of Sinclair Avenue, Staten Island, customer who would buy the cocaine with Sabella and then resell it.
  • James Geller, 52, of Wood Avenue, Staten Island, would cut cocaine for the Fallacaro brothers and Urciuoli, and would broker deals for the Fallacaro brothers with customers.
  • Heather D’Amico, 29, of Matawan, New Jersey, would take delivery of packages of cocaine for Richard Fallacaro.

"Today was a good day for Staten Island because unless they are stopped drug traffickers spread addiction, misery and violence in the communities they pollute. These polluters were stopped,” said NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. said: “Through the collaboration of my office, our Attorney General, and the NYPD, we have demolished a pipeline of illegal drugs that spanned our nation, from Southern California to the New York metropolitan region.  This operation, which brazenly utilized our banks, delivery services and other commercial enterprises is now permanently out of businesses.”

In addition to OCTF, the New York City Police Department, and the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office, the investigation also involved Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, the City of New York Business Integrity Commission, the New York City Department of Investigation, the FBI and the US Department of Labor. The Attorney General thanked all of these agencies for their assistance.

This case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Amy Legow Cohn, under the supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin L. Baker.  The investigation was handled by Senior Investigator Peter Odiot and Supervising Analyst Linda Farrell, under the supervision of former Supervising Investigator George Pagnotta.

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