Last edited on Friday, November 05, 2021, at 4:34 PM.
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Friday, November 05, 2021
Drug Trafficking Still a Common Problem in Criminal Courts
As is the case much of the time, this week’s newest criminal cases feature a healthy number of cases involving drug trafficking, with an eye toward interdiction. For example, in a Central Islip federal court on Friday, October 29, 2021, an indictment was unsealed charging New Jersey corrections officer Anthony Cyntje, his brother Robert Leonardi, William Junior Maxwell II, who is better known as “Fetty Wap,” the rap artist, with conspiracy to possess and distribute controlled substances. In addition, five of those charged also face charges of using a firearm in the furtherance of drug trafficking.
In all, Robert Leonardi was arrested in Pennsylvania on October 13, 2021, arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard A. Lloret of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and ordered detained pending trial. Wiggins was arrested on October 27, 2021, arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven J. Locke, and ordered detained pending trial. Maxwell was arrested on Oct. 28 and was arraigned later that day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Locke.
As alleged in the indictment, from approximately June 2019 through June 2020, the defendants distributed more than 100 kilograms of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine throughout Long Island and New Jersey. The defendants obtained the narcotics on the West Coast and used the United States Postal Service and drivers with hidden vehicle compartments to transport the controlled substances across the country to Suffolk County, which is where they were stored until they were distributed to dealers who sold the controlled substances on Long Island and in New Jersey. Five of the defendants also used firearms to protect their drug organization and distribution chain.
Also, last week, on November 2, 2021, three people were indicted after law enforcement officials from the DEA and other state and federal agencies seized more than 900 kilograms of cocaine. The announcement of the indictment was made by the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, Damian Williams. Jorge Aponte-Guzman, 33, Nelson Agramonte-Minaya, 37, and Carlos Maisonet-Lopez, 32, were all indicted on Nov. 2 because of their participation in a wide-ranging drug trafficking conspiracy.
Williams was quoted as saying, “This investigation has yielded the seizure of approximately 920 kilograms of cocaine, disrupting an alleged narcotics trafficking organization. Thanks to our partners at the DEA, this massive quantity of dangerous drugs has been kept off the streets.”
According to the Indictment, on or about September 29, 2021, Aponte-Guzman traveled in a rental van from a loading dock in New Jersey to the area of a New Jersey residence, where he was met by Maisonet-Lopez and Agramonte-Minaya. Inside the rental van, law enforcement seized approximately 460 kilos of cocaine that were packaged inside ten large metal lawn rollers. The next day, DEA agents seized a substantially similar shipment of 10 large metal lawn rollers from the loading dock that Aponte-Guzman had visited the day before. In that second shipment, agents found an additional approximately 460 kilograms of cocaine.
Gang Activity Still Drives Criminal Accusations
Another significant drug case introduced into New York criminal courts comes with a case brought this week, in which a purported leader of the MS-13 gang in Honduras, as well as a known drug supplier for that branch of MS-13, were charged in a Manhattan court with offenses dealing with firearms, drug trafficking, and Racketeering on Nov. 3.
The announcement of the charges was made by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, along with several federal and state law enforcement officials. The Superseding Indictment charges Yyulann Andony Archaga Carías, a/k/a “Alexander Mendoza,” a/k/a “Porky,” and David Campbell, a/k/a “Viejo Dan,” a/k/a “Don David,” with committing racketeering, drug trafficking, and several related firearms offenses. Carías remains at large and has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List of Fugitives.
Not everything in the criminal courts is about drugs or minor fraud. Sometimes, cases are brought against public officials who use their positions to take advantage of others who can hardly afford it. For example, New York City’s DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. announced last week that a former Bursar at the City College of New York, Joseph Boselli, 58, had been charged with Grand Larceny after it was learned that he allegedly stole more than 900 checks meant for around 700 students. In all, the checks taken allegedly totaled about $500,000.
Overall, Boselli was charged in a complaint filed in a New York County Criminal Court with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Scheming to Defraud in the First Degree, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing.
More specifically, according to the court record, Boselli was the City College Bursar from October 2011 to October 2019. Between August 16, 2012, to November 22, 2017, BOSELLI stole more than 900 checks that were earmarked for 700 current and former City College students.
His checks were made by City College, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the City College Fund, which was a now-defunct non-profit that provided merit-based scholarships and other financial awards to City College students. A great many of the stolen checks had fake signatures in the endorsement sections on the backs. Some of them even allegedly included the same handwriting.
There is Still a Problem with Public Corruption
Of course, we know well that public corruption often involves a lot more than stealing students’ checks. On Oct. 4, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced the indictment of Eugene Roberson, 54, a Director of Contracts for New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), for his role in stealing $64,000 from HHC between March 2018 and June 2021. He is also charged with filing several false bank statements.
In all, the indictment charges Roberson with Public Corruption, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, and five counts each of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.
Computers Take an Ever-Greater Role in Crime
In recent years, there have been several cases in the criminal courts related to some aspect of computer hacking or data manipulation. Just such a case was launched this week when a British citizen was indicted for their role in an elaborate conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and related offenses.
The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, on Nov. 3, and the charges against the defendant, who is a 22-year-old British citizen named Joseph James O’Connor, a/k/a “PlugwalkJoe,” include conspiracy to commit computer hacking and additional crimes in connection with a SIM swapping scheme that resulted in the theft of approximately $784,000 worth of cryptocurrency.
In this case, O’Connor and several co-conspirators managed to carry out a SIM card swap attack on at least three executives with Company-1. After that, they gained unauthorized access to multiple Company-1 accounts and computer systems, where they stole and fraudulently diverted cryptocurrency of various types from cryptocurrency wallets maintained by Company-1 on behalf of two clients.
Gun Trafficking is Also Still a Problem
In another case, on October 5, 2021, the New York City District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., along with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, announced that an indictment had been returned against Roberto Carmona, 51, and Harold Florian, 51, both of Tennessee, for selling at least 80 guns to an undercover NYPD detective. Two other defendants from Tennessee, Alan Goode, 30, and Melvyn McDonald, 41, were charged in the indictment for knowingly supplying the firearms for illegal New York City gun sales.
In the 141-count New York State Supreme Court indictment, all four men are charged with Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, as well as various counts of Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First, Second, and Third Degrees, and other related charges. According to the indictment, Carmona used his position as a doorman at a Midtown building to store ammunition in a locker and to sell many deadly weapons outside. The indictment also indicates he and the other defendants brought their work home with them and sold dozens of guns just outside the Morningside Heights building where Carmona and his family lived.
This case has led DA Vance to propose a new “Gun Kingpin” bill once again, as a way to establish the crime of “Operating as a Major Firearms Trafficker,” which, if passed, would create a prison sentence of 25 years to life for anyone convicted of selling 20 or more firearms in a single year. Vance has proposed a similar law every year since 2016, but this time, he hopes to pass it.