DA Hoovler-15 Charged in Major Middletown Narcotics Conspiracy

August 5, 2023

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, Orange County Sheriff Paul Arteta, City of Middletown Police Chief John Ewanciw and City of Port Jervis Police Chief William Worden Announce Arrests in Narcotics Conspiracy Investigation Centered in Middletown and Port Jervis

Two-year narcotics investigation by the City of Middletown Police Department into Angelica Rodriguez’s cocaine trafficking culminated into a three-month long wiretap investigation.

15 Defendants Charged with crimes including Conspiracy to Sell Controlled Substances

Michael Rodriquezthe Director of “B.R.A.G.”  Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence, an anti-violence program that works to promote safer streets, charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree and Illegal Possession of Two Handguns

Michael Rodriquez accused of supplying cocaine to Narcotics Dealers in the City of Middletown and the City of Port Jervis

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, Orange County Sheriff Paul Arteta, City of Middletown Police Chief John Ewanciw, and City of Port Jervis Police Chief William Worden, announced at a press conference held on August 1, 2023, at City Hall in Middletown, that fifteen defendants have been charged with crimes including Conspiracy to Sell Narcotics. The arrests were the result of a two-year long narcotics investigation that utilized court-ordered eavesdropping. Seven search warrants were executed during the investigation which resulted in the seizure of over 1516 grams of cocaine crack having a street value of approximately $50,000.00, over $167.000.00 in United States currency, and three illegally possessed handguns. The investigation was conducted by the City of Middletown Police Department, the Orange County Drug Taskforce, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the City of Port Jervis Police Department.Other law enforcement agencies who provided crucial aid in this investigation included the New York State Police Violent Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Orange County Sheriff’s Special Operations Group, the Hudson Valley Crimes Analysis Center and the City of Yorkers Police Department.

Among those arrested was Michael Rodriquez, age 48, of Yonkers, who is the Director of Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence, [B.R.A.G.], which is a prominent anti-violence program that receives government money and works in the Bronx to promote safer streets. Michael Rodriquez was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, and Conspiracy in the Second Degree. Michael Rodriquez is accused of supplying cocaine to narcotics dealers in the City of Middletown and the City of Port Jervis and possessing two illegal handguns.  On July 26, 2023, a search warrant was executed at Michael Rodriguez’s Yonkers residence, which resulted in the seizure of 1516 grams (over 1.5 kilograms) of cocaine, $165,509 in United States currency, scales, a money counter, an unlicensed Ruger .380 caliber pistol, an unlicensed Bond Arms .357 caliber handgun, a vacuum sealer, digital scales and jewelry estimated to have a value of approximately $50,000. It is alleged that Michael Rodriguez regularly supplied cocaine to Angelica Rodriguez, who would sell it in and around Middletown, and Tiano Lopez who would sell it in and around Port Jervis. Michael Rodriquez is currently being held without bail in the Orange County Jail pending his appearance in County Court.  The District Attorney’s Office has filed a Notice of Affirmative Grand Jury Action in the City of Middletown Court with respect to Michael Rodriguez.

The City of Middletown Police Department has been engaged in a two-year long investigation into cocaine trafficking in and around the City of Middletown committed by Angelica Rodriguez, a/k/a “Jelly,” age 39, of Otisville. The City of Middletown Police Department were later aided in the investigation by the Orange County Drug Taskforce. That Taskforce is run under the supervision of a Senior Criminal Investigator from Orange County District Attorney’s Office and a Senior Investigator from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. In addition to personnel from those agencies, the Drug Task Force is composed of police officers from other Orange County police departments. Currently the Town of Montgomery Police Department, the Wallkill Police Department, and the Highlands Police Department have committed to assigning police officers to work on the Task Force. 

After conventional investigative means failed to reveal evidence showing the entire extent of the narcotics conspiracy surrounding Angelica Rodriguez, the District Attorney’s Office applied for permission to use court-ordered eavesdropping in the investigation.  During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that the same suppliers of cocaine who were providing Angelica Rodriguez and her co-conspirators with cocaine to sell, were also suppling narcotics to those in the City of Port Jervis. The City of Port Jervis was also active in the investigation.

Angelica Rodriguez, a/k/a “Jelly” (who is not believed to be related to Michael Rodriquez), was arrested on July 27, 2023,and charged by a felony complaint filed in the City of Middletown Court with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, and Conspiracy in the Second Degree and is currently being held without bail in the Orange County Jail, pending her appearance in County Court. The District Attorney’s Office has filed a Notice of Affirmative Grand Jury Action in the City of Middletown Court with respect to Angelica Rodriguez.  Other charges are expected to be filed against Angelica Rodriguez.  During a traffic stop which occurred on July 14, 2023, police recovered thirty-six (36) grams of cocaine from a vehicle she had been driving.  A search warrant executed at a storage unit she had been renting resulted in the seizure of a loaded Smith and Wesson .380 caliber pistol, cutting agents and a scale commonly used for the processing of cocaine. The pistol recovered in Angelica Rodriguez’s storage unit had been previously reported as stolen.

Those charged in the operation include the following:

Michael RodriguezCriminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 1stDegree; Criminal Possession of a Weapon 2nd Degree; andConspiracy in the 2ndDegree48YonkersRemanded with no bail pending appearance in County CourtYes
Angelica RodriguezCriminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3rdDegree; and Conspiracy in the 2nd Degree39OtisvilleRemanded with no bail pending appearance in County CourtYes
Taino LopezConspiracy in the 2nd Degree25MiddletownReleased Yes
Amy AustinConspiracy in the 2nd Degree44Port Jervis Released No
Rebecca ConcepcionConspiracy in the 2nd Degree32Port JervisWantedNo
Janiyah ConklinConspiracy in the 2nd Degree20MiddletownReleased No
Ruthann DaileyConspiracy in the 2nd Degree43MiddletownReleased No
Nathan GannonConspiracy in the 2nd Degree54WallkillReleased No
Michael JacksonConspiracy in the 2nd Degree35NewburghWantedNo
John MeyerConspiracy in the 2nd Degree42Glen SpeyReleased Yes
Victor PachecoConspiracy in the 2nd Degree42EllenvilleWantedYes
Angel RodriguezConspiracy in the 2nd Degree42MiddletownReleased Yes
Felix RodriguezConspiracy in the 2nd Degree31MiddletownReleased Yes
Jennifer WilliamsConspiracy in the 2nd Degree49Port JervisReleased No
Minnie WilliamsConspiracy in the 2nd Degree31MiddletownReleased Yes

Michael Rodriquez was arrested on July 26, 2023, following the execution of the search warrant at his residence.   The police and District Attorney’s Office are seeking the public’s help in locating Rebecca Concepcion, Michael Jackson, and Victor Pacheco, for whom arrest warrants have been filed in the City of Middletown Court. Anyone with information concerning their whereabouts should contact the City of Middletown Police Department. The remaining defendants were arrested, arraigned,and released due to the bail reform laws on July 27, 2023.  Procedurally, the cases against all the defendants will be presented to an Orange County Grand Jury.

“There are still those who think that they can sell narcotics with impunity if they insulate themselves through the use of intermediaries,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “This case exemplifies the benefits of coordinated and dedicated enforcement actions by police and prosecutors, and why no one who traffics narcotics in Orange County can hope to evade law enforcement. I commend the City of Middletown Police Department for commencing with this investigation and appreciating the benefits that working with the Orange County Drug Taskforce, and other law enforcement agencies such as the City of Port Jervis Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police. This operation helped to disrupt the flow of narcotics being trafficked in Middletown and Port Jervis by bringing drug dealers, including Michael Rodriguez, to justice. It is unconscionable that the Director of a respected group which has pledged to reduce gun violence and help at risk youth would himself choose to becomea major drug dealer himself and commit weapons offences. I hope that the poor example he has set does not disillusion vulnerable youth who might be tempted to follow his example. If they do they will surely also follow him to prison.  Cooperation and coordination between law enforcement agencies is essential when combating major narcotics traffickers. We are truly fortunate that the law enforcement agencies in Orange County are committed to working together for public safety.”

City of Middletown Police Chief John Ewanciw said, “I commend the dedicated detectives and police officers of the City of Middletown Police Department for their unwavering efforts in this case. I also commend and thank all of the other agencies who worked with us in this investigation, including the Orange County Drug Taskforce, the Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police, the City of Port Jervis Police Department, the City of Yonkers Police Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Law enforcement works best when agencies work together.” 

Sheriff Arteta added, “I know firsthand how dynamic these lengthy investigations are. They require a tremendous amount of resources, time and effort. We were happy to assist the City of Middletown Police Department in bringing this case to a close with a successful end product, shutting down a large-scale drug operation. I will continue to provide the resources on a county level to our partnering agencies; this drug-related activity will not be tolerated in our communities”.

City of Port Jervis Police Chief William Worden said, “This case underscores the value of inter-agency collaboration in combating illegal narcotics trafficking. Drug dealers do not recognize geographical boundaries, and successful outcomes are achieved when law enforcement agencies work collaboratively. Through this case and others, the Port Jervis Police Department continues our close working relationships with the Middletown Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.” 

The maximum sentence for the Class A-I felony of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree with a prior felony conviction is 24 years in state prison.

The maximum sentence for the Class B felony of Conspiracy in the Second Degree with no prior felony conviction is 8 1/3 to 25 years in state prison. The maximum sentence for that charge with a prior felony conviction is 12 1/2 to 25 years in state prison.

The maximum sentence for the Class B felony of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree is nine years in state prison. The maximum sentences for those charges with a prior felony conviction is twelve years in state prison.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Alexis Gregory, who also aided in the investigation.

A criminal charge is merely an allegation by the police that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.