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Post date: June 6 2003

Drug Task Force Obtains Indictments In Cny

Attorney General Spitzer and Cortland County District Attorney Robert T. Jewett today announced the indictment of 26 individuals linked to a cocaine ring operating in Central New York.

The charges stem from a nine-month investigation by the New York Attorney General's Statewide Organized Crime Task Force, Cortland County District Attorney's Office, Cortland County Sheriff's Department, Cortland City Police Department, New York State Police, Dryden Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, SUNY Cortland Police and Town of Homer Police Department.

It is alleged that since at least September 2002, the members of this cocaine distribution network sold large amounts of cocaine in Cortland and Tompkins counties. Officials estimate that the network sold an average of two pounds of cocaine per month with a street value of over $90,000. The cocaine is believed to have originated in the Bronx, according to officials.

"Drug rings operating across regional boundaries can pose problems for law enforcement," Spitzer said. "However, thanks to excellent cooperation from the members of the task force, we were able to break this ring and reduce the flow of narcotics into Central New York."

Charged under the indictment are : Leticia L. Anderson; Irene R. Trinidad a/k/a Renee Trinidad; Stepfon Muse; Robin Hoff a/k/a Robin Sherman; Westcoe Williams; Charlene A. Ross; Christopher G. West; Jason Polite; Maureen M. Barnes; Melissa J. Randall; Larry Gantt; Shaniquia Gantt a/k/a Neene Gant; Thomas Miller; Gerra J. Haskins a/k/a Gerra Peacock; Robert C. Sherman; Vanessa Porter a/k/a Vanessa J. Plater; Afriquia Williams a/k/a Afriquia Lawton; and Cicero J. Fort.

If convicted of the most serious charges against them, Leticia Anderson, Jason Polite, Stepfon Muse, Shaniquia Gantt and Afriquia Williams could face life in prison. Others in the case could face up to 25 years in prison.

Evidence developed in the investigation also resulted in the arrest today of seven other individuals on drug-related charges. Walter R. Meyer, Kevin J. Becker, Robert Petit, MaryBeth Barnes, Thomas D. Walley, Clarissa A. Hilley, Troy L. Fuller and Ryan L. Card. Those cases will be prosecuted by Cortland County First Assistant District Attorney David Hartnett and Assistant District Attorney Erin Pemberton.

During the course of the investigation, authorities recovered 11 ounces of cocaine and four vehicles, including a 1998 Mercedes which police allege Leticia Anderson utilized on several occasions to transport cocaine to her various customers.

The investigation was initiated by Captain Martin Coolidge of the Cortland County Sheriff's Department. Court authorized wiretaps obtained by the Attorney General's Statewide Organized Crime Task Force were utilized in the investigation, as well as more traditional police methods. Those indicted are being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorney General James J. Mindell of the New York Attorney General's Statewide Organized Crime Task Force's Syracuse Office.

The charges in the indictment are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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