on January 28, 2014 - 2:14 PM
A chef at the downtown TGI Fridays restaurant allegedly cut drug deals between flipping hamburgers.
A man provided entertainment to drug dealers, police say, with hundreds of cockfights on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in northern Niagara County.
And a grandmother allegedly sold painkillers and cocaine while she was baby-sitting her grandchildren at her house in Pembroke.
These are the accusations made against three people among 40 indicted Tuesday in an announcement that brought the state’s two top law enforcement officials to Buffalo to outline how two major drug rings were taken down.
The drugs came from Boston, New York City and Florida and were distributed through the two networks throughout Western New York.
“The chef was slinging cocaine on the side,” State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said of Anthony DeJames, 32, who works in the TGI Fridays at Main and Chippewa streets. “He was making deals while he was at work.”
A restaurant spokesman Tuesday said DeJames has been placed on administrative leave in what they called an “isolated incident.”
Police dubbed that investigation “Operation TGIF.”
The other, “Operation Lockport,” resulted in the seizure of $100,000 in cocaine, $60,000 in cash, three rifles, a cache of prescription painkillers and different equipment and items used to secretly transport the cocaine here.
Matthew Dubuc, 42, who was identified as the cockfight organizer, lives on Printup Road on the Tuscarora territory. Drug dealers from Operation TGIF, the attorney general said, often attended Dubuc’s illegal animal fights, at which the birds were equipped with spurs and razors on their legs.
“He charged admission. It was blood sport. The birds would hack each other to death,” Schneiderman said, adding that Dubuc was wrong to think he could get away with his operation because it was on an Indian reservation. Most of the spectators, authorities added, were from outside the reservation.
“Operation Lockport” centered on several individuals, but it was 59-year-old Geraldine Horsefall’s actions involving her grandchildren that were highlighted at the news conference.
State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said Horsefall not only employed her adult children in selling drugs on and off the reservation of the Tonawanda Band of the Senecas, but she also managed to work her four grandchildren, ranging in age from 1 to 12, into the operation by having them present at sales.
Schneiderman described that as despicable.
“When someone brings small children along, that’s about as low as you can get,” he said.
Horsefall obtained prescription Oxycontin and Lortab pills from nurse Michelle King, 42, of Akron, who stole them, according to the attorney general.
King was employed by an area doctor, authorities said, but the physician’s identity was not released because there is no evidence that he was involved in the illegal activity.
“Horsefall also bought the prescription drugs from many people who are down and out,” said Peri Alyse Kadanoff, head of the attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force. “Her grandchildren would often be right in the house with her when she was making a transaction.”
Horsefall’s daughter, Arylyn Horsefall, 33, and son, Eric Parker, 38, also of Pembroke, were arrested.
“These drugs destroy our New York and Native American communities and addict our kids,” D’Amico said.
In addition to the Horsefalls, Jermaine Cox, 35, of Niagara Falls, and Lamar Johnson, 34, of Lewiston, allegedly served as “linchpins” in distributing cocaine to customers in Erie County and on the Tonawanda reservation.
Vincente Mundy, 59, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was arrested with several items that were believed to be used to prepare hiding places for cocaine in the soles and heels of shoes that were shipped on a regular basis to Western New York from Florida.
In all, 25 people were indicted in Operation Lockport.
The 15 defendants in Operation TGIF sold cocaine that was shipped here from New York City and Boston, according to D’Amico.
Luciano Pitre, 36, and Juan Fermin, 48, both of Buffalo, and Franklin Lara, 35, of the Dominican Republic, were identified as the main dealers in this network, which supplied Erie County drug users. It was during this probe that the illegal cockfighting was discovered.
“ … members of this drug network attended regular cockfights on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation. Undercover investigators observed hundreds of cockfights, including many at which the animals were killed,” according to a statement from the attorney general’s office. “Bets were placed on each fight, both between the owners of the birds and between members of the assembled crowd.”
Twenty-eight defendants were arraigned Tuesday before State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang on charges of conspiracy and drug possession and sale. The remaining defendants will be arraigned this morning by Wolfgang.
Cox, described by Assistant Attorney General Kevin Kane as a target in Operation Lockport, pleaded not guilty to 23 counts in the more than 120-count indictment and was ordered held without bail. Kane said Cox met with his co-defendants in a Niagara Falls motel to obtain kilos of cocaine.
When police stopped Cox’s car, Kane said, he had three-quarters of a kilo and $7,000 in cash. King said he also had $28,000 in cash in storage.
Cox, a lifelong Falls resident and drug dealer, according to Kane, was taking delivery of the cocaine while on parole and wearing an ankle monitoring device.
William Graham, 55, of Niagara Falls, was sent to the Erie County Holding Center on A-1 felony drug and conspiracy charges.
He was described by Kane as a conduit between Cox and Mundy, the Fort Lauderdale resident. Kane said Graham was present with Cox during three of the kilo transfers of cocaine at the Falls motel.
Coco Spencer, 30, of Lockport, was ordered held on $50,000 bail on nine drug and conspiracy charges. Kane called her a flagrant distributor of cocaine, moving at least nine ounces at a time with what he described as remarkable speed while on parole on a prior drug conviction and while wearing an ankle monitor. Her arraignment attorney, Giovanni Genovese, said she was a full-time student at Bryant & Stratton Business College and cares for a 15-year-old son.
Note: A previous version of this story had an incorrect last name for Assistant Attorney General Kevin Kane.
News Staff Reporter James Staas contributed to this report email: firstname.lastname@example.org