Father and Son Defendants Pled Guilty to Felony Charges
in Drug Conspiracy Case
Last of 35 Defendants to Plead Guilty in “Operation Family Ties”
Which Targeted Major Narcotics Distributors
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Friday, February 2, 2018, Ramon Rivera, 45, and his son, Raymond Rivera, 26, each of Newburgh, each pled guilty before Orange County Court Judge Robert H. Freehill to felony charges in connection the “Operation Family Ties” narcotics conspiracy investigation. These defendants were the last of thirty-five indicted defendants to plead guilty in connection with that investigation. Ramon Rivera pled guilty to Conspiracy in the Second Degree, and Raymond Rivera pled guilty to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. Both are scheduled to be sentenced on March 15, 2018. At the time Ramon Rivera pleaded guilty, prosecutors stated on the record that they would be seeking a sentence of six to twelve years in state prison.
In May 2017, an Orange County grand jury had charged thirty-five defendants with felonies related to conspiring to sell cocaine and heroin, largely in the Newburgh area. The grand jury issued two indictments that alleged the existence of two separate conspiracies to distribute narcotics. The indictments charged Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, as well as other charges.
On March 13, 2017, the New York State Police, the City of Newburgh Police Department, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office executed sixteen search warrants and arrested over thirty individuals on felony charges as part of a nine-month narcotics investigation, dubbed “Operation Family Ties.” The United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Town of New Windsor Police, the Town of Newburgh Police, the City of Port Jervis Police, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance also aided in the execution of the warrants.
The investigation targeted the distribution of heroin, cocaine, PCP, and marijuana in the City of Newburgh and several surrounding towns in Orange County. The investigation began in June 2016, when the City of Newburgh Police Department and the New York State Police received information about illegal narcotics sales around 170 Carson Avenue in the City of Newburgh.
The indictment alleged that Ramon Rivera and his son, Raymond Rivera were operating a drug trafficking organization in the City of Newburgh and the Town of Newburgh supplying individuals with cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin for redistribution on the street. An execution of Raymond Rivera’s residence on March 13, 2017, yielded 30 grams of cocaine.
With these defendants’ guilty pleas, all of the thirty-five individuals who had been indicted by an Orange County grand jury in connection with the “Operation Family Ties” enforcement action have entered pleas of guilty.
In addition to the criminal charges, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has begun a civil forfeiture proceeding against many of the defendants, in order to seize from them the profits that they have made by illegally selling narcotics. The suit seeks over $3,000,000 in illegally-obtained profits.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, the City of Newburgh Police Department, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Town of New Windsor Police, the Town of Newburgh Police, the City of Port Jervis Police, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Criminal Investigations Division 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 prosecuting all of the defendants charged in the operation.
“This case illustrates just how organized drug traffickers can be as they attempt to profit from the opioid epidemic,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “It is only through coordinated enforcement actions such as ‘Operation Family Ties’ 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. Although we have emphasized education and treatment as important avenues to keep people off drugs in the first place, given the increased lethal potency of illegal narcotics, we have also made it a priority to attack the supply of narcotics by vigorous enforcement actions against narcotics dealers. My office will continue to use every tool at our disposal, including the use of wiretaps, civil forfeiture actions, and criminal statutes that have never been charged before in Orange County, to combat the illicit narcotics trade and all types of organized criminal activity.”
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.