Fourteen Indicted In Attorney General's Albany Narcotics Investigation

April 19, 2007 – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, Albany County District Attorney David Soares, Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings, Albany Police Chief James Tuffey and State Police Superintendent Preston Felton today announced the indictments of 14 individuals charged with narcotics trafficking in Albany neighborhoods, stemming from an investigation dubbed “Operation Cash.”

The charges unsealed today before Albany County Court Judge Thomas A. Breslin allege that the defendants were part of a crack and powder cocaine distribution network that brought drugs from New York City into Albany’s neighborhoods. More than three pounds of cocaine – possessing a street value of $130,000 – were seized during the investigation.

According to the indictment, the leaders of the cocaine conspiracy operated out of an apartment at 48 Second Ave., in the South End of Albany. The cocaine was originally purchased in New York City, where defendants regularly traveled to purchase quantities of two pounds or more to redistribute in Albany County. Similar to a food delivery service, Linton Middleton, a/k/a “Cash,” Laquan Williams and Kimani Martin took telephone orders from the other conspirators, quickly packaged the drugs to order and delivered by car to drug dealers’ homes or locations. They were careful to change their vehicles almost every week and they even drove winding routes to try to throw off any law enforcement surveillance.

The six-month investigation began in October of 2006 as part of an effort by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) to assist the Albany Police Department in combating narcotics trafficking in the Albany area. With information gathered by OCTF and by using electronic surveillance and other techniques, investigators successfully monitored drug deliveries to the other defendants.

In early February, investigators executed search warrants at nine locations throughout Albany, including 48 Second Ave. When executing the warrant at that location, the defendants threw a kilogram of cocaine from a side window, only to have it land a few feet away from officers waiting outside. Overall, investigators recovered more than two-and-one-half pounds of cocaine and a loaded .357 caliber pistol at the Second Ave. location.

The following individuals are charged in the indictment and scheduled to be arraigned today: Linton Middleton a/k/a “Cash,” 26; Laquan Williams a/k/a “Pop,” 22; Kimani Martin a/k/a “Mono,” 22; Steve McCann, 31; Yvonte Williams, 31; David Hough a/k/a “Devo,” 29; Dwayne Daniels, 35; Brandon Inman, 26; Michael Jones a/k/a “Big Mike,” 25; Paris Jones, 23; Sherman K. Ryan, 39; Thomas Cossart, 28; Ameika Roach a/k/a “Roach,” 29; and Daniel Ross, 55.

Charges include: Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Second Degrees (class A felonies); Conspiracy in the Second Degree (class B felony); Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree (class B felony); Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree (class C felony); Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (class C felony); Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (class A misdemeanor); and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree (class A misdemeanor).

If convicted, Middleton, Williams and Martin each face up to 20 years in prison and all defendants could face up to 9 years in prison. The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Today’s indictments are part of the OCTF’s ongoing upstate initiative to shut down intra-state narcotics trafficking and deprive street-level dealers of their supply of drugs, income and influence. Because these criminal acts span multiple jurisdictions, making it difficult for local law enforcement alone to stop the drug activity, statewide efforts such as this are necessary and appropriate. Attorney General Cuomo has made a priority of curbing violent crime in upstate cities, including Albany.

Attorney General Cuomo said, “The dismantling of this drug ring is an important step in the battle against gangs, guns and drugs in Albany. Large-scale takedowns like this one will help stop the scourge of drugs that has been spread from New York City into upstate communities. Through a coordinated effort, we have shut down for good a direct narcotics pipeline from New York City that pushed poison into Capital District neighborhoods.”

Albany Police Chief James W. Tuffey said, “Operation Cash is prime example of the success law enforcement can have when you utilize the resources from multiple organizations. This initiative eliminates a major source of cocaine distribution throughout the Albany County area and we are committed to the long term effort of shutting down drug pipelines throughout the region.”

Albany County District Attorney David Soares said, “Another drug pipeline coming into Albany County has been shut down thanks to the leadership and work of the Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force. Criminal Organizations do not acknowledge geographic or jurisdictional boundaries in furthering their criminal enterprises. The effort invested into ‘Operation Cash’ should send a strong message to these organizations that those of us in Law Enforcement are overcoming our jurisdictional challenges and are working collaboratively to eliminate organized crime.”

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said, “I want to acknowledge the vigilance of the office of Attorney General Cuomo and our local law enforcement agencies in putting yet another significant dent in illegal drug trafficking in our City. A coordinated effort in pursuing illegal drug activity will only serve to make our neighborhoods safer and our community a more desirable place to live.”

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Preston L. Felton said, “These indictments and seizures are a direct result of continuing multi-agency law enforcement efforts to rid New York of narcotic trafficking to make New York State's streets safer. These indictments send a strong message to drug dealers throughout the region that New York State will not tolerate drugs in its communities.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorneys General Thomas J. Melanson, John Dormin and Robert Lee under the direction of Deputy Attorney General J. Christopher Prather of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force. The Albany Police Department and New York State Police C-NET participated in the investigation, along with: OCTF Investigators Dennis Tomasone, Jeff Sauter, Frank Kovacs and the OCTF technical unit under the supervision of Investigator William Charles; Major Jack McCabe, Lieutenant Steve James and Senior Investigator Sam Mercado of the New York State Police C-NET; and Assistant Chief Steve Krokoff and Detective John Monte of the Albany Police Department.