DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES INDICTMENT OF DRUG-DEALING CREW BASED OUT OF HARLEM FURNITURE STORE

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of 11 individuals on conspiracy and drug charges relating to the sale of marijuana from a Central Harlem store that purported to sell furniture. The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to distribute wholesale quantities of marijuana, as well as with Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Degrees.[1]

The indictment follows a joint investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit (“VCEU”) and the New York City Police Department’s Narcotics Borough Manhattan North. The investigation was initiated in direct response to community complaints about drug dealing at West 132nd Street and Lenox Avenue, which were made to attorneys from the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit (“CSU”) and members of the District Attorney’s Community Affairs Unit. The investigation into this case is continuing.

“Another city block is being reclaimed from drug dealers, thanks in large part to local residents who came forward to report suspicious activity,” said District Attorney Vance. “These defendants weren’t just selling small amounts to occasional drug users – they were selling in bulk to other dealers, drawing criminals to the neighborhood.

“Since January 2010, the District Attorney’s Office has participated in more than 2,000 neighborhood meetings and community events,” District Attorney Vance continued. “We are a presence on the ground, and are building stronger cases because of it. We are also making sure that New Yorkers have the opportunity to meet and report crime directly to prosecutors, through the work of our Crime Strategies Unit.”

The indictment charges FRANK McTAGGART, a/k/a “David Brown,” 44, the leader of this drug crew, as well as DONAVAN LEWIS, 36; LARRINGTON HAYE, a/k/a “Young,” 39; STAFFORD BURKE, a/k/a/ “Slim,” 44; DAVID DAWSON, 39; PETER BOWLEY, 46; CHRISTOPHER RICHARDS, 41; CORDERO BAILEY, 22; JOHN MOSLEY, 32; FREDDIE BOBBITT, 52; and RALLYFORD SIMPSON, 53. One of the defendants, BAILEY, is awaiting trial in New York County on an indictment charging him with possession of multiple loaded firearms.

According to documents filed in court, beginning in July 2010, members of the District Attorney’s VCEU and NYPD detectives initiated an undercover operation aimed at dismantling a crew that dealt marijuana while operating out of the Rally Furniture store at 101 West 132nd Street. The defendants are charged with turning public and private property along West 132nd Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues into a drug marketplace, routinely hiding their drug stashes in residents’ mailboxes, stoops, driveways, planters, and on car tires. Additionally, they concealed drugs in what otherwise appeared to be discarded newspapers, bags and containers. To avoid attracting police attention to their base at the Rally Furniture store, the defendants engaged in drug deals at other neighboring businesses.


Pictured above: a business card used by the defendants

During the period charged in the indictment, the defendants operated their drug crew like a legitimate business, working daily shifts, seven days a week, beginning early in the morning and continuing into the night. Court documents further reveal that the defendants would often enter and leave Rally Furniture before and after completing drug deals.
According to documents filed in court, on many evenings, Rally Furniture and the sidewalk in front of it became not only a place to initiate drug purchases, but also a de facto social club where some of the defendants, while still selling drugs, would remove chairs from inside the store and play table games, host parties and barbecues, drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, and play loud music into the early morning hours, according to court documents. Oftentimes, these defendants would leave discarded food, alcohol containers, and empty bags that once contained drugs strewn on the sidewalk, where children on their way to school and adults on their way to work would find them.
Formed by District Attorney Vance in 2010, CSU tracks the unique crime issues facing each community using intelligence-driven prosecution techniques. Senior prosecutors monitor the criminal activity in each police precinct, working with investigators, community affairs liaisons, and intelligence analysts to share information among law enforcement agencies. In this case, by tracking and analyzing arrest and prosecution data and working directly with the 32nd Precinct, CSU gathered grass-roots intelligence about the 11 defendants in this case and their drug dealing methods, and then shared this critical information with VCEU.

Also formed by District Attorney Vance in 2010, by consolidating two existing units, VCEU is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the types of violent criminal organizations that degrade the quality of life in Manhattan. Rather than prosecuting defendants individually, VCEU takes a global approach and aims to dismantle entire criminal enterprises from top-to-bottom through multi-defendant indictments under New York State’s conspiracy laws. In this case, upon receiving information from CSU about the open-air marijuana dealing at West 132nd Street and Lenox Avenue, VCEU and its partners in the NYPD conducted a lengthy investigation and built the criminal case.

Assistant District Attorneys Jordan Arnold and Jennifer Barron conducted the investigation and are handling the prosecution of this case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Ryan, Chief of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo, Chief of the Trial Division. Assistant District Attorney Tanya Apparicio of the Crime Strategies Unit provided assistance throughout the investigation, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney David O’Keefe, Chief of the Crime Strategies Unit, and Executive Assistant District Attorney for Crime Prevention Strategies Chauncey Parker. Investigative Analyst Jonathan Taber is providing valuable assistance with the case, in addition to Deputy Chief Investigator Richard Bellucci, Supervising Investigator Mark Stewart, and Senior Investigator Reginald Barometre Captain Joseph Del Duca and Detective Michael Bazerman of the District Attorney’s Office Squad also assisted in the investigation.

District Attorney Vance thanked Police Commissioner Kelly and members of the NYPD’s Manhattan North Narcotics Division, particularly Inspector Lori Pollock, Deputy Inspector James Klein, Captain Kevin Radday, Lieutenant Anthony Ronda, Sergeant Emile Provencher, Police Officer Ramon Rosario, Detective Steven Gansrow and the undercover detectives. District Attorney Vance also thanked members of the NYPD’s 32nd Precinct, including Inspector Kevin Catalina and Sergeant Matthew Reid (FIO).

District Attorney Vance also thanked Postal Inspector James Buthorn of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Supervisor Thomas Kilbride of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Regional Fugitive Task Force.


Defendant Information:

FRANK McTAGGART, a/k/a “David Brown,” D.O.B. 9/10/66
New York, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts

DONAVAN LEWIS, D.O.B. 2/18/75
Bronx, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts

LARRINGTON HAYE, a/k/a “Young,” D.O.B. 7/18/72
Bronx, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the First Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 5 counts
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Fourth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts

STAFFORD BURKE, a/k/a/ “Slim,” D.O.B. 5/24/67
New York, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the First Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts

DAVID DAWSON, D.O.B. 11/8/71
New York, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the First Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Fourth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

PETER BOWLEY, D.O.B. 8/8/64
New York, NY

Charges:
Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the First Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

CHRISTOPHER RICHARDS, D.O.B. 8/10/69
New York, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts

CORDERO BAILEY, D.O.B. 3/16/89
New York, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Fourth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts

JOHN MOSLEY, D.O.B. 3/6/1979
New York, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Fourth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 5 counts

FREDDIE BOBBITT, D.O.B. 11/6/58
Bronx, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
Criminal Sale of Marijuana in the Fourth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts

RALLYFORD SIMPSON, D.O.B. 2/23/58
Bronx, NY

Charges:

Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

A class C felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a class D felony is punishable by up to 7 years in prison, a class E felony is punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail.

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