DA Hoovler Announces Guilty Pleas in Cocaine and Narcotic Pills Distribution Conspiracy Cases

April 20, 2019

Former City of Middletown Fire Department Lieutenant Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy in the Second Degree and Operating as a Major Trafficker

Will be sentenced to at least 8 1/3 to 25 Years in Prison and Forfeit $315,000

“Operation Bread, White and Blues” Targeted Narcotics Distributors and
Outlaw Motorcycle Club Members

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced on Monday, April 8, 2019, three defendants, including Paul Smith, 48, of Deerpark, who had been a paid Lieutenant with the City of Middletown Fire Department at the time of his arrest on February 5, 2019, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown, to felony charges in connection with the enforcement action dubbed “Operation Bread, White and Blues”. Indictments arising from that enforcement action outline two separate conspiracies, one of which primarily involves members and associates of self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs trafficking cocaine, and another of which involves the sale of narcotic pills which were represented to contain oxycodone, but which contained fentanyl, a highly addictive and frequently lethal narcotic. The name of the operation referred to the co-conspirators use of the term “bread” to mean money they obtained through the sale of narcotics, “white” to represent the cocaine which was sold, and “blues” to represent the blue colored pills which were being trafficked. Most of the defendants in the action were arrested in a series of early morning raids and search warrant executions which occurred on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

Smith pleaded guilty to Operating as a Major Trafficker and Conspiracy in the Second Degree, in connection with the conspiracy to distribute cocaine through self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs. Pursuant to a plea agreement which was placed on the record by District Attorney David M. Hoovler at the time of the plea, Smith will receive a sentence of eight and one-third to twenty-five years in state prison for the crime of Conspiracy in the Second Degree and concurrent time for the crime of Operating as a Major Trafficker. The maximum sentence for the Class A-1 felony of Operating as a Major Trafficker is 25 years to Life in State Prison. Additionally, Smith agreed to forfeit $315,000 that he made from selling cocaine pursuant to the conspiracy, as well as a 2014 Dodge Ram pick-up truck, a 2008 corvette automobile, and a 2012 Harley Davidson motorcycle that he used to transport narcotics. Smith is next scheduled to be in court on July 10, 2019.

Samuel Marino, 30, of Campbell Hall, also pleaded guilty on April 8, 2019, to Conspiracy in the Second Degree, in connection with the with the conspiracy to distribute cocaine through self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs. Pursuant to a plea agreement placed on the record at the time that Marino pleaded guilty, he will be sentenced to five to fifteen years in state prison when he is sentenced on July 10, 2019.

Raymond Chong, 49, of Middletown, pleaded guilty on April 8, 2019, to Conspiracy in the Second Degree in connection with the conspiracy to sell pills containing narcotics. Chong is scheduled to be sentenced on July 10, 2019. Chong is the fifth alleged member of that conspiracy to plead guilty to felony charges. On February 20, 2019, Salvatore Distefano, 36, of Westtown; Desmon Pierson, 36, of Middletown; and, Melissa Delrosso, 35, of Middletown, each pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown to the class B felony of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, and the class E felony of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. Dominick Guardino, 55, of Middletown, pleaded guilty to the class E felony of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and the misdemeanor of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. All those defendants admitted that they agreed with others to possess and sell narcotic pills. Each admitted that it was their role in the conspiracy to receive and redistribute narcotics. Distefano, Pierson Delrosso and Guardino are scheduled to be sentenced on July 10, 2019.

On February 5, 2019, members of the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team aided by the New York State Police Special Operations Response Team and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had executed multiple search warrants and made over twenty arrests throughout Orange County, and Rockland County. The arrests and search warrant executions were as a result of a six-month-long narcotics investigation. Law enforcement officials recovered more than $200,000, 25 handguns, one assault rifle, multiple rifles, ten vehicles, two motorcycles, over 2.5 pounds of cocaine and 1300 Fentanyl pills.

The New York State Police were assisted by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police for their efforts in this investigation. District Attorney Hoovler highly commended the New York State Police for their investigation given the complexity of the case.

Assistant District Attorney Neal Eriksen assisted in the investigation of the case and is assisting in prosecuting all of the defendants charged in the operation.

Senior Assistant District Attorneys Kerry Kolek and David Byrne are prosecuting all the defendants charged in the operation.

In addition to filing criminal charges, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has also instituted a civil forfeiture proceeding against many of these defendants in the cocaine conspiracy in order to seize from them profits that they have made illegally selling narcotics. Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Mangold is conducting the civil forfeiture proceedings.

“As a firefighter and first responder, Paul Smith knows better than most the dangers involved in ingesting the narcotics that he, and those he admitted were his co-conspirators, were selling,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “It is unconscionable that someone who is paid to help others would be peddling these substances. Narcotics trafficking is destroying the fabric of our society, killing our residents, and must be fought at every level. It is only through enforcement actions such as “Operation Bread, White and Blue” that law enforcement is able to pursue those higher level drug dealers and craftier offenders who attempt to insulate themselves from criminal liability by dealing drugs through intermediaries.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation 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’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.