Drug Enforcement Administration

New York

Acting Special Agent in Charge Keith Kruskall , Special Agent in Charge

July 13, 2018

Contact: Erin Mulvey

Phone Number: (212) 337-3900

DEA undercover operation leads to guilty plea

Buffalo, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. and James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge of DEA’s New York Division, announced that Joseph C. Paternostro, 28, of Hamburg, New York pled guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a fine of $10,000,000. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan A. Tokash, who is handling the case, stated that between July 2016 and May 2, 2017, the defendant regularly purchased cocaine from a source of supply in Dunkirk, New York a weekly basis for resale to local customers. On February 9, 2017, and February 16, 2017, the DEA conducted two undercover purchases of cocaine from Paternostro. 

On November 16, 2017, law enforcement officers surveilled the defendant’s vehicle and conducted a probable cause traffic stop. Officers recovered cocaine from Paternostro’s pocket. Officers also executed a New York State search warrant at the defendant’s residence on Lake Heights in Hamburg. During the search, a quantity of cocaine was seized, as well as a drug scale with cocaine residue, and drug packaging material.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation by DEA’s Buffalo Resident Office; the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force; and the Evans Police Department. 

Sentencing is scheduled for October 18, 2018, at 2:30 p.m. before Judge Geraci.

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