Undercover operation nets 28 alleged drug dealers in Ulster

Some of the drugs and guns seized in a recent URGENT bust, along with K-9 Farrell.

The Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team this week announced the conclusion of a three-month undercover operation that resulted in the arrest of 28 alleged drug dealers from all corners of Ulster County. The announcement comes as the decade old task force is seeking increased support for its mission to combat drug and gang activity using a regional approach.

URGENT is a task force run out of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and headed by a board made up of Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum, District Attorney Holley Carnright and Town of Lloyd Police Chief Daniel Waage. The task force consists of officers from 13 county, local and federal law enforcement agencies. The team is headed by District Attorney Office Chief of Investigations William Weishaupt, a former FBI agent.

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According to Carnright, the task force has spent the last three months making undercover drug buys from alleged dealers from Chichester to Plattekill and all points in between. Over the course of the investigation, the task force arrested 130 people on charges ranging from misdemeanor drug possession to felony drug trafficking and weapons charges. The operation also netted 28 illegal firearms, $123,645 in suspected drug money, 20,000 “decks” of heroin, 275 decks of pure fentanyl and 843 grams of cocaine.  Carnright said this week that authorities kept the operation quiet — no press releases were sent out and most of the targets were taken into custody in the past two weeks sometimes months after making the alleged drug sales — to prevent suspects from running and to allow officers to pursue cases from the street level to higher level suppliers.

“There isn’t necessarily a link between all of these cases, it’s just a culmination of work we have been doing over the past three months,” said Carnright. “When you develop information in undercover work, and you act immediately, it often terminates that trail. We wanted to get some of the bigger suppliers.”

Previous URGENT roundups, like 2012’s “Operation Clean Sweep,” focused on the street-level drug trade centered in Midtown Kingston. The latest operation cast a far wider net. Kingston residents accounted for a quarter of the 28 suspects hauled in. another six live in Saugerties, three in the Town of Ulster and two in Woodstock. Others come from rural communities like Chichester, Shawangunk and Accord.

Carnright said the demographics of the operation reflected the ongoing opioid crisis, which has hit hardest among white, rural and suburban communities. “The opioid crisis is broader than people want to believe,” the DA said. “Before the opioid crisis there seemed to be some sections of the county that were pretty clean, but opioids don’t discriminate. They can be in any community.”

In Woodstock, the sweep netted two suspects. Phillip “Phil Void” Hemley, 67, was arrested after URGENT executed a search warrant on his residence. The search turned up 21.6 pounds of marijuana, three ounces of psilocybin mushrooms, 2.5 ounces of hashish and $15,676 in suspected drug proceeds. Hemley was charged with the class A-II felony of second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and the class C felonies of fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and first-degree criminal possession of marijuana. A second Woodstock resident, Bo Hirsch, 18, is charged with felony fourth- and second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and first-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

A search warrant in Kingston led to the arrest of Matthew A. Felton, 37. The raid turned up 12.4 grams of crack cocaine, 4.4 grams of heroin, a half-pound of marijuana and $8,047 in suspected drug proceeds. Felton is charged with eight counts of felony third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, and felony counts of tampering with evidence and criminal possession of marijuana. Felton also faces a misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.

A third warrant executed in the connection with URGENT sweep led to the arrest of Edwin Pomales, 69, of Route 32 in the Town of Ulster. Police say they turned up a quarter-kilo of cocaine, an ounce of concentrated cannabis, two and a half ounces of marijuana, rifles, shotguns, scales and drug packaging materials during the search. Police also discovered $15,390 in suspected drug proceeds during the raid. Pomales is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal use of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of marijuana.

Additionally the following suspects were arrested in the URGENT operation.

Kingston

• Ronald W. Warnick, 50, of John Street is charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He also faces misdemeanor counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia.

• Caryn Wilde, 43, of East Chester Street is charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• Shayna Longendyke, 33, of Clinton Avenue is charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• Jurgen Ladstetter, 47, of Cedar Street is charged with felony third- and fouth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• Kenneth Montgomery, 30, of Henry Street was indicted by an Ulster County Grand Jury on felony counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• Richard W. Torres, 26, of Kingston was charged with felony third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Town of Ulster

• Ryan E. Rios, 35, was charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon. At the time of his arrest, Rios was free while awaiting trial on federal drug charges stemming from an October 2016 operation by Homeland Security Investigations into a Kingston- and Poughkeepsie-based cocaine trafficking ring.

• Kristi R. Noonan is charged with felony counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Saugerties

• Brian J. Lombardo, 25, is charged with felony counts of fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• William P. Braden III, 35, is charged with three counts of felony fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and three counts of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

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• Melissa R. Neglia, 25, is charged with two counts of felony third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• Cesar J. Infante, 33, is charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• Michael J. Cavallaro, 35, is charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. According to state records, Cavallaro was released from prison on parole in March 2017 after serving six years for a previous drug conviction.

• Skylar A. Eichert, 28, is charged with four counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and four counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Other locations

The following people were also charged in connection with the URGENT operation.

• Alyssa J. Long, 22, of Rosendale was charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• Jordan A. King, 20, of Rosendale was charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

• Kayla S. Holderman, 26, of Hurley was charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of fifth-degree criminal possession on a controlled substance.

• Christopher J. Lay, 36, of Chichester was charged with felony fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor first-degree loitering.

There is one comment

  1. Jorge. A

    Waste of Tax Payer Money. Who Cares if Losers Choose To Use Drugs, Why Should My Tax Dollars Be Paying To Jail Feed And give health Car To These Drug Users or Sellers, both the same. The cost to arrest, prosecute, house these foolish drug addicts in very costly to tax payer. Jail is not the solution and too costly. Cops can do nothing to stop drug use. How nuts to depend on police to stop drug use in our society.

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