News Release
Date: April 16, 2012
Contact: Mia Ro, PIO
Number: 954-660-4602

15 Years for Former Deputy Sheriff on Drug, Gun Charges
--Former Marion County Deputy Sheriff Nicholas Ragosta Schemed to Steal Hundreds of Pounds of Marijuana-- 

APR 13 – (Ocala, FL) – Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division, and U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announced that U.S. District Judge John Antoon II sentenced former Marion County Deputy Sheriff Nicholas M. Ragosta, 40 of Ocala, Florida, to 15 years in federal prison. On January 6, 2012, a federal jury found Nicholas Ragosta guilty for conspiracy and possession with intent to sell marijuana, and use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. As part of the sentence, the court also entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $240,000.

According to the testimony and evidence presented at trial, in May 2009 Nicholas Ragosta, Andrew Ragosta, and Robert Abbott conspired to lure Nelson Daniel Schena, a marijuana supplier in Hialeah, Florida, up to Marion County to steal Schena’s marijuana load. The plan was for the members of the Ragosta Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO), Abbott and Andrew Ragosta, informed Schena that they had buyer in Marion County who wanted to purchase marijuana from Schena.

On May 15, 2009, Schena and his two associates transported 400 pounds of marijuana, which had a street value of approximately $240,000, from Miami to Abbott’s residence in Marion County. During the meeting, the marijuana load was placed into Andrew Ragosta’s van. Abbott and Andrew Ragosta instructed Schena to follow them to the buyer’s house where Schena would get paid. Unwittingly Schena and his associates were being escorted to a location where the marijuana would be stolen. The ruse was that they would travel to a pre-determined location where Deputy Nicholas Ragosta would be waiting. Then Deputy Ragosta, who would be dressed in full uniform and driving his Marion County Sheriff’s Office marked patrol car, would make a bogus traffic stop.

Just as the Ragosta DTO had conspired, Andrew Ragosta led Schena to a pre-determined location, and then Deputy Ragosta conducted the bogus traffic stop. After the initial stop, a pre-planned confrontation was acted out by Deputy Ragosta, who drew his firearm at Schena when he exited his vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Andrew Ragosta fled the scene in the van with the marijuana load and was followed by Deputy Ragosta in the patrol car in an attempt to make it appear that he was chasing after the van. The Ragosta DTO later sold the stolen marijuana load and divided the proceeds among Andrew Ragosta, Abbott, and Nicholas Ragosta.

This case was investigated by Drug Enforcement Administration, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Marion County Sheriff's Office.