A.G. Schneiderman Announces 24 Arrests In "Operation Babcock" Cocaine Bust Centered In Western New York

Investigation Part Of A.G. Schneiderman’s Upstate Guns, Gangs, And Drugs Initiative

Schneiderman: We Will Continue To Rid Our Neighborhoods Of Illegal Narcotics Trafficking

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that 24 individuals have been arrested on narcotics trafficking charges in connection with drug distribution networks in Erie, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Genesee Counties. Today’s two indictments are the result of an investigation known as “Operation Babcock” run by the Attorney General Schneiderman's Organized Crime Task Force and the New York State Police's Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (C-NET) unit. Babcock is the nickname of a neighborhood in South Buffalo where much of the investigation took place.

Attorney General Schneiderman's office is prosecuting the 24 individuals who participated in two separate cocaine distribution networks centered in and around the Buffalo area. During the course of this investigation, several kilograms of cocaine, and approximately $58,500 in cash were seized.

"Operation Babcock has led to the arrests of dozens of individuals who infiltrated the streets of Western New York with large quantities of illegal drugs," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "With our partners in law enforcement, we will continue to crackdown on these drug networks to rid our neighborhoods from the infestation of these dangerous narcotics. I want to thank the New York State Police and the rest of our law enforcement partners for another successful operation that will keep our streets safer."

New York State Police Superintendent, Joseph A. D'Amico said, "This investigation is yet another result of the longstanding and highly successful partnership that exists between the New York State Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force and the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team. Their dedication, investigative efforts, and today's arrests have removed a significant cocaine distribution operation in Western New York. We are sending a strong message that illegal drugs will not be tolerated in our communities."

The year-long undercover investigation revealed Richard Himbury, of Tonawanda NY, as one of the major suppliers in the Buffalo area.

Another defendant, Laurie Kozakowski, has been a toll collector, employed by the New York State Thruway Authority, for the past 10 years. The investigation revealed that Kozakowski bought large amounts of cocaine from suppliers in South Buffalo and brought it to Batavia where she re-sold the drugs.

Kozakowski is charged with an A1 felony which carries a penalty of eight to 20 years in prison, if convicted.

The first indictment is 95 counts and charges 22 defendants with Conspiracy, as well as Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance. The second indictment charges three defendants with Conspiracy, Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Defendants (Hometown, Age):

ROB ALESSI West Seneca, NY, 29
RASHEEM ALSTON   Buffalo, NY, 36
MICHAEL BANKS  Buffalo, NY, 36
JESSE BONNER   Buffalo, NY, 38
JOSEPH BONNER  Buffalo, NY, 26
MANUEL BRACERO   Buffalo, NY, 20
SCOTT BUSH   Buffalo, NY, 50
JULIENE BYHAM   Buffalo, NY, 29
MARK COUSINS  Buffalo, NY, 21
KEVIN DEAN   Buffalo, NY, 21
DANIEL FINO   Lackawanna, NY, 26
WESLEY FISH  Buffalo, NY, 25
GREGORY GIOIA  West Seneca, NY, 22
RICHARD HIMBURY   Tonawanda, NY, 40
RICHARD ISCH   East Aurora, NY, 24
DAVID LINK   Tonawanda, NY,42
JUSTIN MILLS   Depew, NY, 32
SEAN RANSFORD   Buffalo, NY, 22
MICHAEL SYLVIA   Buffalo, NY, 25
JOSEPH SANNA   Buffalo, NY, 43

The indictment is the culmination of a major investigation led by Attorney General Schneiderman’s OCTF and is part of his efforts to combat large-scale narcotics trafficking and related crimes across the state.

The Attorney General thanked the Buffalo Police Department and the New York State Division of Parole for their assistance with the investigation.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

The investigation was conducted by OCTF Special Investigator Thomas Vivian and Supervising Investigator Peter Talty under the supervision of Deputy Chief Eugene Black and NYSP Senior Investigator Charles Torres under the supervision of Lt . Martin McKee and Major Wayne Olson.

The case is being prosecuted in Erie County by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Kevin Kane, under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Nancy Hoppock.