BRIDGEPORT, CT. – Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport returned two indictments today charging a total of 18 individuals with various offenses related to their involvement in a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, a potent and highly-addictive prescription narcotic. The defendants include three Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, a police officer with the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and a trooper with the Florida State Police, all of whom are also charged with extortion and/or bribery offenses.
This matter stems from “Operation Blue Coast,” an investigation headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force. Each of the defendants were previously arrested on criminal complaints.
“The facts of this case are troubling for two principal reasons,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “First, we allege that this organization was responsible for the transportation of tens of thousands of oxycodone pills, which, when abused, are dangerous narcotics that destroy individuals, families, and communities. Second, we allege that three officers of the Transportation Security Administration and two law enforcement officers accepted bribes in exchange for permitting the illegal drugs and the cash proceeds of the illegal drug trafficking to travel safely, undeterred by airport security or law enforcement. The Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners have no tolerance for corruption in these ranks.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, the investigation began in April 2011 when the DEA Task Force received information that an individual in possession of a large quantity of oxycodone was traveling from Palm Beach, Fla. to Stamford, Conn. to sell thousands of oxycodone pills. On April 8, 2011, the DEA arrested that individual, who was in possession of approximately 6,000 oxycodone pills, in a hotel in Stamford. The arrested individual subsequently revealed that, over the course of approximately one year, he had regularly purchased oxycodone from suppliers in Florida, transported the oxycodone to Connecticut by commercial airline or automobile, and sold the pills to various Connecticut-based narcotics traffickers. The individual stated that he traveled from Florida to Connecticut several times a week carrying up to 8,000 oxycodone pills per trip. Analysis of airline records subsequently confirmed that the individual had traveled from Florida to New York at least 65 times from November 2010 to April 2011. He then paid drivers to transport him to and from narcotics transactions in Connecticut during which he would sell all of the pills he transported from Florida. He then transported the proceeds of his oxycodone sales from Connecticut to Florida, either by having a courier drive the money or by using commercial airline flights.
The arrested individual also explained that, to ensure the success of the operation, he provided cash and gift cards to Christopher Allenand JOHN BEST, Transportation Security Agency (“TSA”) officers who screened passengers and luggage at Palm Beach International Airport (“PBI”) in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Brigitte Jones, a TSA officer who screened passengers and luggage at Westchester County Airport (“HPN”) in White Plains, New York. The individual admitted that, when flying from PBI to HPN, he provided cash or gift cards to the TSA officers in order to ensure that he would not be prevented from passing through airport security while he carried oxycodone pills on his person or in his carry-on luggage. He also said he made several payments, totaling more than $20,000, to Michael Brady, a Westchester County Police officer, in order to ensure that he could carry large quantities of cash, the proceeds of his drug trafficking, through airport security at HPN. The individual further explained that he provided cash to Justin Kolves, a Florida State Trooper, and gave checks to Jessica Douglas, Kolves’ fiancee, in exchange for Kolves’ assurance that individuals who transported narcotics or currency on behalf of the individual would not be detained by law enforcement while driving through Central Florida.
The DEA Task Force, in coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Connecticut, New York and Florida, continued to investigate this narcotics distribution operation with the cooperation of the individual who was arrested in April 2011 and another individual who was subsequently arrested. The investigation employed the use of consensually recorded conversations, controlled deliveries of oxycodone, physical surveillance, and examination of rental car and airline records.
Today, the following 14 individuals were charged by indictment with conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance. The charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million:
Christopher Allen , 45, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., a TSA officer based at the Palm Beach International Airport. It is alleged that Allen accepted cash payments in exchange for facilitating the transportation of oxycodone through airport security without detection.
John Best , also known as “JB,” 30, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., a TSA officer based at the Palm Beach International Airport. It is alleged that Best accepted cash payments and a gift card in exchange for facilitating the transportation of oxycodone through airport security without detection.
Brigitte Jones , 48, of The Bronx, N.Y., a TSA officer based at Westchester County Airport. It is alleged that Jones accepted cash payments and a gift card in exchange for facilitating the transportation of oxycodone and narcotics trafficking proceeds through airport security without detection.
Michael Brady , 36, of New York, a police officer employed by the Westchester County Department of Public Safety. It is alleged that Brady accepted cash payments in both Connecticut and New York in exchange for facilitating the transportation of narcotics trafficking proceeds through Westchester County Airport without detection.
Justin Kolves , 28, of Florida, a Trooper employed by the Florida State Highway Patrol. It is alleged that Kolves accepted cash payments and checks in exchange for ensuring that others could transport oxycodone and drug trafficking proceeds via automobile through a portion of Florida’s highway system without law enforcement interference. It is alleged that Kolves also provided “protection” during what he believed to be two oxycodone transactions in Connecticut.
Jessica Douglas , 28, of Florida. It is alleged that Douglas accepted money on Kolves’ behalf and arranged his transportation to Connecticut where Kolves was to provide protection.
Sami Naber , 51, of Yonkers, N.Y. It is alleged that Naber leased and drove rental vehicles to transport oxycodone from New York to Connecticut, narcotics trafficking proceeds from Connecticut to New York, and also to Florida. It is also alleged that he exchanged small denominations of U.S. currency for larger denominations in order to facilitate the transportation of bulk cash.
Emmanuel Babe , also known as “Manny,” 38, of Mount Kisco, N.Y. It is alleged that Babe transported oxycodone from Florida to Connecticut and narcotics trafficking proceeds from Connecticut to Florida.
Wilner Castelin , also known as “Castro,” 42, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It is alleged that Castelin transported oxycodone from Florida to Connecticut and narcotics trafficking proceeds from Connecticut to Florida.
Bruce Yazdzik , also known as “YB,” 28, of Waterbury, CT; David Gaudiosi, also known as “Wade,” 26, of Waterbury, Sandra Canfield, 30, of Waterbury; Patrick Serafine, 26, of Waterbury; and Bernard Famiglietti, 49, of Waterbury, who are each alleged to have purchased or assisted in the purchase of large quantities of oxycodone from members of the conspiracy, for distribution to street-level narcotics dealers. In addition to the conspiracy charge, Gaudiosi, Canfield, Serafine and Famiglietti are charged with attempted possession or possession with intent to distribute oxycodone. If convicted of this charge, each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
The indictment also charges Allen, Best, Jones, Brady, Kolves and Douglas with knowingly committing extortion under color of right, as it is alleged that each took money in their official capacities from another individual even though the money was not owed to them or to their respective agencies. This charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
The indictment further charges Allen, Best, Jones and Brady with receipt of a bribe by a public official. It is alleged that each of these defendants assisted and allowed a cooperating witness or an undercover law enforcement officer to pass through airport security with what the defendants believed to be narcotics and/or narcotics trafficking proceeds. This charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
A second indictment charges Marivette Alicea, 21 of Waterbury; Christopher Roderick, 31, of Canterbury, Conn.; Steven Stopper, 46, of Naugatuck, Conn., and Kevin Lund, 38, of Naugatuck, with one count of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, and one count of attempted possession of oxycodone. Each of these charges carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
Stopper also is charged with one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a narcotics trafficking offense, which carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum term of imprisonment of life and a fine up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, which includes personnel from the Connecticut State Police and the Bridgeport, Milford, Norwalk, Stamford and Westport Police Departments; the Drug Enforcement Administration in Florida and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General. In addition, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Greenwich, Monroe, Danbury and Waterbury Police Departments have assisted the investigation.
U.S. Attorney Fein also acknowledged the cooperation of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the Florida Highway Patrol and the assistance provided by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and Assistant United States Attorneys Steve Carlton and Emalyn Webber.