At least 29 individuals have been linked via felony charges to an alleged narcotics distribution syndicate police say was being run out of the Shinnecock Reservation. Most of them were rounded up in a series of raids October 24, and were arraigned Thursday, November 7 in the Riverside courtroom of New York State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei. All those arraigned that day entered not guilty pleas.
The ring generated $1 million in revenue, according to the district attorney’s office. At least four of the Shinnecock 28 are facing extended prison time if convicted, none more so than Ryan Kellis, 32.
Kellis, who goes by the street name of “Noodles,” according to the indictment, is charged under the drug kingpin law as being a major narcotics profiteer. Past that felony, there are four charges of selling narcotics, as well as five accompanying felony possession with intent to sell counts. According to the charges, Kellis was dealing both cocaine and heroin. He is also charged with conspiracy and heroin possession. If convicted of the narcotics profiteer charge, he faces 25 years to life in prison.
Kellis was the target of a 18-month-long sting and court-ordered wiretap investigation, conducted by state police, alongside the FBI, the East End Drug Task Force, state and county police, and various departments across the East End. The operation began in January, and concluded with a series of raids October 24. Kellis is being held on $500,000 bail. Mazzei agreed to prosecuting attorney’s Ryan Hunter stipulation that any bail to be posted must be vetted to ensure it is not the proceeds of a criminal enterprise.
Also charged under the narcotics profiteer statute is William Bess, who also allegedly sold narcotics on the reservation, and off. Bess is said to have two street names, Bop and Flaco. His charges include one of selling over a half-ounce of cocaine to one individual last December, apparently caught on tape, numerous charges of possession of narcotics, and criminal possession of a firearm, a shotgun.
The third charged under the kingpin statute is Justin Eleazor, who police say goes by the street name of “Hood.” The fourth so charged is Benjamin Diaz of the Bronx, who is said to be the syndicate’s cocaine supplier, including one incident on August 7 when he sold over a half-ounce of narcotics to one buyer, according to the charges. Diaz has yet to be arraigned in county court and is in the county jail in Riverside. Mazzei set bail for both Bess and Eleazor at $500,000 and both remain behind bars.
Many of those in the ring acted as couriers for the alleged drug lords, according to the indictment, setting up transactions, and delivering the narcotics, which included, according to District Attorney Tim Sini, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Two of the alleged couriers, Kenneth Rivero, 34, and Trevor Hardin, 29, both of Flanders, were charged with criminal possession of an automatic weapon, along with several narcotics related felonies, including possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana. Rivero is free after posting $10,000 bail, while Hardin, whose bail was set at $5000, remains behind bars.
The drug distribution group had alleged runners in Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Southampton, Flanders, Riverhead, and Hampton Bays, according to the charges.
The following are all charged with felony crimes, many facing B felony conspiracy charges. Some are being held without bail, due to their criminal records. Several are facing multiple felony charges, including weapons possession, and allegedly selling narcotics. Town of residence included when known.
The list includes Thomas Halek, 49, of Hampton Bays; Walter Mims, 33, of Southampton; Nicholas Spiegel, 32, of Hampton Bays; Frank Taylor, 59, of Southampton; Joseph Dowling, 27, of Sag Harbor; Valton Reddick, 51; Derrick Quinn, 49; Brandon Gardener, 33; Scott Michael Hornestein; Edward Gumbs, 57, Shinnecock reservation; Richard Short, 51; Nicholas Spiegel, 32; Thomas Halek, 49; Richard Weeks; John Tracy, 25, of Springs; Walter Mims, 33; Frank Taylor, 59; Matthew Manzella, 30; Johnnie Booker, 45; Gary Elfont; and Nichole Rosado, 29, of Southampton, the only woman charged.
Two other defendants have not yet been arraigned, so their names were blacked out of the 68-count indictment unsealed by the court November 7. A third name that appears in the indictment, though not named as a defendant, is being held in custody on a violation of probation charge following a prior drug dealing conviction. Yet a fourth has already pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, and is not included in the indictment.
The long morning of arraignments touched on the coming major reforms to New York State’s laws regarding bail. Come January 1, judges will not be allowed to set bail on any drug related crime, except for the kingpin statute.
“Why should someone suffer now for a law that is going to change January 1?” Philip Russo, attorney for Mims said. Mazzei set bail for many at $5000.