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Posted on: February 21, 2019

District Attorney Hoovler Announces Guilty Pleas in Narcotic Pills Distribution Conspiracy Case

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“Operation Bread, White and Blues” Targeted Narcotics Distributors and 

Outlaw Motorcycle Club Members

 

Four Defendants Plead Guilty to Felony Conspiracy Charges 

in connection with Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics Pills

 

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, four of the defendants that had been charged in an enforcement action dubbed “Operation Bread, White and Blues”, have pleaded guilty to multiple counts of Conspiracy in connection with an agreement to distribute narcotic pills in Orange County.  Salvatore Distefano, 36, of Westtown, Desmon Pierson, 36, of Middletown and Melissa Delrosso, 35, of Middletown, each pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown to the class B felony of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, and the class E felony of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. Dominick Guardino, 55, of Middletown, pleaded guilty to the class E felony of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and the misdemeanor of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree.  All four defendants admitted that they agreed with others to possess and sell narcotic pills.  Each admitted that it was their role in the conspiracy to receive and redistribute narcotics.

At the time that Distefano, Delrosso and Guardino entered their pleas of guilty, a plea agreement was placed on the record which requires, among other actions, that each defendant obtain substance abuse treatment.  If those defendants abide by their plea agreements, they will only be sentenced with respect to the lower conspiracy charge to which they pleaded guilty when they are sentenced on June 27, 2019.   

On February 5, 2019, members of the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team aided by the New York State Police Special Operations Response Team, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, executed multiple search warrants and made over twenty arrests throughout Orange County, and Rockland County.  The arrests and search warrant executions were as a result of a six-month-long narcotics investigation. Law enforcement officials recovered more than $200,000, 25 handguns, one assault rifle, multiple rifles, ten vehicles, two motorcycles, over 2.5 pounds of cocaine and 1300 Fentanyl pills.  In total twenty-six individuals were charged with felony narcotic offences.

Felony complaints filed in conjunction with the enforcement action outline two separate conspiracies, one of which primarily involves members and associates of self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs trafficking cocaine, and another of which involves the sale of narcotic pills which were represented to contain oxycodone, but which contained fentanyl, a highly addictive and frequently lethal narcotic. The name of the operation refers to the co-conspirators use of the term “bread” to mean money they obtained through the sale of narcotics, “white” to represent the cocaine which was sold, and “blues” to represent the blue colored pills which were being trafficked.

In addition to filing criminal charges, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has also instituted a civil forfeiture proceeding against many of the defendants in the cocaine conspiracy in order to seize from them profits that they have made illegally selling narcotics.  The suit seeks over $833,000 in illegally obtained profits. Additionally, the office has commenced a forfeiture proceeding against a defendant in the pill conspiracy who illegally profited from the sale of narcotic pills. Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Mangold is conducting the civil forfeiture proceedings.

All four of the defendants who pleaded guilty on February 20, 2019, had been charged with respect to the conspiracy to possess and distribute narcotic pills, and will not be the subjects of forfeiture proceedings.

District Attorney Hoovler highly commended the New York State Police for their investigation given the complexity of the case. 

Assistant District Attorney Neal Eriksen assisted in the investigation of the case and is assisting in prosecuting all the defendants charged in the operation.

Senior Assistant District Attorneys Kerry Kolek and David Byrne are prosecuting all the defendants charged in the operation.

 “In almost any conspiracy prosecution there are varying levels of culpability, and my office must weigh offering different plea agreements based on factors including each individual defendant’s level of participation in the criminal scheme,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “While any agreement to possess or sell narcotics must be punished, particularly those involving the potentially lethal narcotic fentanyl, we recognize that some lower members of these types of narcotic distribution conspiracies sell narcotics at a level primarily designed to support their own substance abuse habits.  Mandating substance abuse treatment for these types of offenders is both crucial and just. It is only through enforcement actions such as “Operation Bread, White and Blue” that law enforcement can pursue those higher-level drug dealers and craftier offenders who attempt to insulate themselves from criminal liability by dealing drugs through intermediaries. As prosecutors seeking justice, we must access every offender’s culpability independently. Although we will continue to emphasize education and treatment as important avenues to keep people off drugs in the first place, we must also make it a priority to attack the supply of narcotics by seeking severe sanctions against higher level narcotics dealers.”

A 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’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Desmond Pierson

Desmond Pierson

Salvatore Distefano

Salvatore Distefano

Melissa DelrossoMelissa Delrosso

Dominick Guardino

Dominick Guardino

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