‘Operation Candy Crush’ Leads to 12 Arrests
New York State Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced a 110-count indictment on Tuesday charging twelve Hudson Valley residents with operating a large narcotics ring.
The indictments were unsealed Tuesday in the Dutchess County Court of Judge Edward McLoughlin and allege that the co-conspirators from Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties were selling thousands of prescription pills including oxyxodone, amphetamine (Adderall), diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin) and bupremorphine (Suboxone) throughout the Hudson Valley. Each of the 12 were charged with several felony counts of conspiracy, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal sale of a controlled substance along with other charges. If convicted, each defendant could face 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
In a separate indictment unsealed Tuesday, Samantha Vantassell, one member of the alleged drug ring was charged with creating a fictitious Instagram account under another individual’s name to disseminate a post threatening a school shooting at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Hyde Park, New York. Vantassell was charged with making a terrorist threat and criminal impersonation in the second degree for posting a photo of an individual holding what appeared to be an assault rifle with the caption, “going through a lot right now can’t go to school I’m feeling like shooting roosevelt school up.” If convicted on this separate indictment, Vantassell faces up to 7 years in prison.
Of the indictments the Attorney General said, "my office is committed to continuing our multi-layered approach to tackling New York's opioid epidemic-including working with our partners in law enforcement to stop the flow of these dangerous drugs into our communities and drive traffickers out of business."
The takedown was dubbed "Operation Candy Crush" due to the defendant's reference to the prescription pills as candy. During the course of the wiretapping, conspirators frequently utilized coded and cryptic terminology in an attempt to disguise their illicit narcotics trafficking, such as referring to prescription pills as “candy” or “skittles.” The conspirators would also refer to specific dosages of oxycodone pills by the shape and color of the oxycodone pills. For example, 30 milligram oxycodone pills were referred to as “blueberries,” “blueberry pie,” or “blues”; 15 milligram oxycodone pills were referred to as “green apples” or “greens”; and 10 milligram oxycodone pills as “bananas” or “yellows.”
The New York State Attorney General's Office was assisted by the New York State Police Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the US Army National Guard Counterdrug Task Force in the large-scale investigation. The following have been arrested in the operation:
KIMBERLY BEVAN, 33 years old – Poughkeepsie, New York
TIMOTHY CHERRY, 54 years old – Newburgh, New York
JAMES LEE DAVIS, a/k/a “Jim-Bob,” 59 years old – Newburgh, New York
MICHAEL DUBOIS, a/k/a “Michael Brandon,” 39 years old – Newburgh, New York
JOHN LOVERRO, a/k/a “Johnny Boy,” 54 years old – Poughkeepsie, New York
MICHAEL RHODES, 40 years old – Poughkeepsie, New York
SAVANNA SHEROW, 19 years old – Hyde Park, New York
TRISHA SUCATO, 49 years old – Highland, New York
MARK THOMAS, a/k/a “Uncle Mark,” 56 years old – Poughkeepsie, New York
NICOLE VANTASSELL, 42 years old – Poughkeepsie, New York
SAMANTHA VANTASSELL, 35 years old – Poughkeepsie, New York
ARTHUR J. VOLGARINO JR., 59 years old – Hopewell Junction, New York