Schenectady Man Sentenced to 120 Months for Cocaine Conspiracy
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Jeffrey C. Civitello, Sr., age 52, of Schenectady, New York, was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for conspiring to traffic more than 15 kilograms of cocaine in March and April 2021.
United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Frank A. Tarentino III, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division, made the announcement.
Civitello Sr., his son Jeffrey C. Civitello Jr., of Schenectady, and Richard D. Sinde, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, were convicted on all counts following an 8-day trial in April 2023.
United States Attorney Carla Freedman stated: “Jeffrey Civitello Sr. is heading back to where he belongs – federal prison. Today’s sentencing will keep the community safe from someone who, near the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, worked with his own son and experienced drug traffickers from the New York City area to transport large amounts of cocaine to Schenectady. I commend the DEA and its task force members for stopping this sophisticated drug dealer and bringing him to justice.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino said: "Jeffrey Civitello Sr. and his five-man conspiracy used a sophisticated trafficking ring to push cocaine throughout the streets of Schenectady. This sentencing is a prime example of how the proximity to New York City helps fuel drug trafficking organizations throughout the state and the northeast. New York City is the finance capital of the world to include drug cartels using it as a transit hub for poison. I applaud our law enforcement partners for their steadfast efforts to bring Civitello Sr. and his co-conspirators to justice."
The trial evidence demonstrated a conspiracy between five men: the three defendants on trial, as well as Christopher J. Kelly, of Brooklyn, New York, and Robert J. Ingrao, of Lodi, New Jersey.
As part of the conspiracy, Kelly delivered 3 kilograms of cocaine to Civitello Sr. in Schenectady on March 29, and Kelly and Sinde an additional 3 kilograms to Civitello Sr. on March 31. Also on March 31, the Civitellos ordered more cocaine and suggested that Kelly use a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee owned by Civitello Jr., which contained, in its trunk, a sophisticated, hidden compartment, also known as a “trap.” Unbeknownst to the conspirators, the DEA had placed a court-authorized tracker on the Jeep several months prior, as part of an investigation of Civitello Jr.
Sinde then drove the Jeep from Schenectady to Fort Lee, and the following evening met Kelly in Breezy Point, New York, on the Rockaway Peninsula, where Kelly and Sinde loaded up the Jeep’s hidden compartment with 9 kilograms of cocaine to be delivered the following day to the Civitellos in Schenectady.
The following day, on April 2, 2021, Ingrao went to Sinde’s house and got into the blue Jeep, driving it north on Interstate 87. A New York State Police Trooper, at the DEA’s request, conducted a stop on Ingrao in Greene County. The Trooper then located 9 kilograms of cocaine in the Jeep’s hidden compartment.
As part of the conspiracy, the Civitellos were arranging for a “trap” to be installed in another Jeep used by Sinde, so that Sinde could continue to traffic drugs to the Civitellos after Kelly went to state prison for a prior cocaine case; they abandoned that plan following the seizure of 9 kilograms of cocaine from Civitello Jr.’s Jeep on April 2.
United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino also ordered Civitello Sr. to serve a 5-year term of supervised release and to forfeit $240,000. In 1999, Civitello Sr. was convicted in federal court of conspiring to distribute cocaine and money laundering and received a 72-month term of imprisonment.
Civitello Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12, and Sinde is scheduled for sentencing on December 19.
On July 28, 2023, Judge D’Agostino sentenced Ingrao to 37 months in prison, with 3 years of supervision to follow. On August 21, she sentenced Kelly to 41 months in prison, to be followed by a 4-year term of supervised release, and to pay a $25,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the DEA’s Capital District Drug Enforcement Task Force, which includes DEA Special Agents and investigators from state and local police agencies, including the Saratoga Springs Police Department, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and the New York State Police.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Barnett and Dustin C. Segovia are prosecuting this case.