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District Attorney Hoovler: Director of “Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence”, an Anti-Violence Program That Works to Promote Safer Streets, Pleads Guilty to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree and Conspiracy in the Second Degree
Michael Rodriguez Expected to be Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison
Rodriguez Agrees to Forfeit a Car and $165,000 as Ill-Gotten Proceeds of his Crimes
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Thursday, October 12, 2023, Michael Rodriguez, age 49, of Yonkers, pled guilty before the Honorable Craig Stephen Brown in the Orange County Court to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree and Conspiracy in the Second Degree. Rodriguez is the Director of Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence (B.R.A.G.), which is a prominent anti-violence program that receives government money and works in the Bronx to promote safer streets. Under the plea agreement announced on the record at the time that Rodriguez pled guilty, it is expected he will be sentenced to an aggregate term of ten (10) years in prison to be followed by five (5) years post-release supervision when he returns to court on January 4, 2024. Rodriguez also agreed to forfeit a car and $165,000 as ill-gotten proceeds of his crimes.
The City of Middletown Police Department engaged in a two-year long investigation into cocaine trafficking in and around the City of Middletown allegedly committed by Angelica Rodriguez, a/k/a “Jelly,” age 39, of Otisville. The City of Middletown Police Department were later aided in the investigation by the Orange County Drug Taskforce. That Taskforce is run under the supervision of a Senior Criminal Investigator from Orange County District Attorney’s Office and a Senior Investigator from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. In addition to personnel from those agencies, the Drug Task Force is composed of police officers from other Orange County police departments. Currently the Town of Montgomery Police Department, the Wallkill Police Department, and the Highlands Police Department have committed to assigning police officers to work on the Task Force.
After conventional investigative means failed to reveal evidence showing the entire extent of the narcotics conspiracy surrounding Angelica Rodriguez, the District Attorney’s Office applied for permission to use court-ordered eavesdropping in the investigation. During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that the same suppliers of cocaine who were providing Angelica Rodriguez and her co-conspirators with cocaine to sell, were also suppling narcotics to those in the City of Port Jervis. The City of Port Jervis was also active in the investigation. Michael Rodriguez was accused of supplying cocaine to narcotics dealers in the City of Middletown and the City of Port Jervis and possessing two illegal handguns. On July 26, 2023, a search warrant was executed at Michael Rodriguez’s Yonkers residence, which resulted in the seizure of 1516 grams (over 1.5 kilograms) of cocaine, $165,509 in United States currency, scales, a money counter, an unlicensed Ruger .380 caliber pistol, an unlicensed Bond Arms .357 caliber handgun, a vacuum sealer, digital scales and jewelry estimated to have a value of approximately $50,000.
At the plea proceedings, Michael Rodriguez admitted to entering into a conspiracy with Angelica Rodriguez and Taino Lopez and supplying them cocaine to resell.
“The plea of Westchester resident Michael Rodriguez shows the reach of the Orange County Drug Task Force, and my Office,” said Orange County Sheriff Paul Arteta. “No matter where drug dealers are located, if you are selling illegal drugs in Orange County, my Office and our partners will find you and hold you accountable.”
“The guilty plea entered by Rodriguez highlights the strength of this case and the tremendous work and effort that went into this investigation,” said City of Middletown Police Chief John Ewanciw. “This case is also a testament to the investment that law enforcement makes to rid our communities of these poisonous drugs.”
“It is appalling that the Director of a respected program which serves to reduce gun violence and help at-risk youth would himself be a major drug dealer,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “Those members of our community who suffer through addiction are the vulnerable prey to people like this defendant, who chose a comfortable life cultivated on the backs and over the bodies of his customers. The coordinated and cooperative efforts of all of the law enforcement agencies who came together to conduct this investigation helped to assure that this defendant would be held accountable for his despicable actions. I praise the City of Middletown Police Department for their investigation and for working with the Orange County Drug Taskforce, and other law enforcement agencies such as the City of Port Jervis Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police. My Office will continue to pursue drug dealers and utilize all resources available to us to bring them to justice.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Alexis Gregory, who also aided in the investigation.
This criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.