US Attorney: 20 Indicted in Heroin Sweep

Woman accused of selling heroin in parking lot of Massapequa restaurant.

Law enforcement officials say they've broken up a major heroin ring that has operated throughout Long Island, arresting 20 members Tuesday.

Among those busted were a woman who allegedly sold the drug in the parking lot of  restaurant in Massapequa and a retired Suffolk County Marine Bureau officer, according to Loretta Lynch, the United States Attorney from the Eastern District of New York.

One of the defendants, Leonardo Lopez, is married to a New York City police  officer, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

The members of the ring were arrested in a sweep early Tuesday morning, prosecutors said.

The group, known as the Perez organization, was allegedly led by 26-year-old Jose Perez, also known as "Jay" Ule," and "Fat Boy."

Their leadership was located in the Woodhaven section of Queens, but they had a distribution network throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties, prosecutors said. They also used a storage facility in Brooklyn.

The 20 defendants allegedly distributed more than 20 kilograms of heroin with a street value of at least $2.75 million to drug dealers in Queens and on Long Island over the past nine months.

Among those arrested was Dana Sollecito, 23, who allegedly sold the drug in the parking lot of the Corner Galley.

Gerry Stanbrough, who is a co-owner of the Merrick Road eatery, insisted he had no idea anything was going on. "I haven't talked to anyone," he said. "I haven't talked to the FBI, the U.S. attorney or police. I only heard about this when the news media came at noon."

Stanbrough said media reports that Sollecito was related to the restaurant's owners are not true, saying she's the daughter of a former owner who has passed away.

But she has been an employee at the Corner Galley for several months, according to Stanbrough.

"I'm shocked, I can't believe it, it's inconceivable to me that his could happen. She's a nice kid, she really is," he said.

The restaurant owner said Sollecito will likely be fired, once she gets out of jail.

Retired Suffolk Marine Bureau officer Roland Stern,  68, and his daughter Corey, 37 were also arrested in the sweep, as were Tina Catrini, 29, and her husband Matthew, 24. Kathryn Papas, 21, a college student was also busted.

The arrests came after a nine month investigation in which more than 5,400 individual doses of heroin were recovered. Searches excuted in Queens, Brooklyn and Roosevelt resulted in the seizure of more than $30,000 worth of heroin and thousands of dollars in cash, prosecutors said. 

The investigation called "Operation County Connection" was handled by the FBI, the Nassau  Police Department and the NYPD with assistance from Suffolk Police and the US Marshals service in the Eastern District of New York.

The defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Kristen Ferrari March 18, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Dick, I've read all of your comments. Have you? You felt the owners got off easy, everyone knew what was happening in the basement under the previous owners, the boss didn't know nothing, eh? Did I misinterpret what you wrote? In case I was so busy pontificating that I wasn't clear....I am not condoning any drug deals nor am I saying we don't have a problem. What I am saying is that the people arrested have most likely been replaced by new dealers. This hasn't been the first major drug sweep on Long Island nor will it be the last. I'm also saying that unless the owner of the restaurant is charged with a crime, we should probably take him at his word that he wasn't aware this was going on. If evidence shows up that he was aware or involved then arrest him.
Kristen Ferrari March 18, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Does anyone remember the Rockefeller Laws?
Dick Blair March 18, 2012 at 04:34 AM
What does that mean that wasn't the first and it won 't be the last? My daughter gets mugged at the Sunrise Mall and I have to listen to someone saying it wasn't the first time at the Mall and it won't be the last. What purpose does that statement serve? Enough nonsensical chit chat. Anyway...the official press release of the US Attorney's office from the Eastern District: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nye/pr/2012/2012mar13b.html
Dick Blair March 18, 2012 at 04:38 AM
These arrests are the result of a THREE YEAR INVESTIGATION: http://lawenforcementcorruption.blogspot.com/2012/03/husband-of-cop-among-those-arrested-in.html
Edward Robinson (Editor) March 18, 2012 at 06:26 AM
Mr. Blair, I got the information that it was a nine month investigation directly from the release by the U.S. Attorney's office which you link to above. Here's the quote: The indictment and arrests are the product of a nine-month joint investigation (“Operation County Connection”) by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), with assistance from the Suffolk County Police Department, the New York City Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service, Eastern District of New York. The investigation was initiated, in part, in response to the increased rate of heroin use on Long Island.
Cathy March 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Kristen Ferrari March 18, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Dick, It means that despite these arrests, our drug problem is not going away. It means that there will be more drug arrests. It certainly doesn't mean they shouldn't make arrests just that we shouldn't be lulled into the false sense of security that the drug trade and addiction are now things of the past. What is so hard for you to understand about that? An addict is steal going to find a way to get high and there are more dealers to replace the ones picked up. 300 million in 9 months. Do you think nobody wants a piece of that action? There's too much money for them to be scared off because a the others got picked up.
Dick Blair March 18, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Mr. Robinson, I have a copy in my hands of the now unsealed Grand Jury Charges for Case 2:2012-CV-00171-ADS-GRB. It begins with the timeline of "In or about and between February 1, 2009 and March 7, 2012..." So according to the now public Grand Jury charges it was a three year investigation.
Dick Blair March 18, 2012 at 05:37 PM
And just for general information item 2 in the Grand Jury charges puts the defendants on notice that in accordance with Title 21 US Code, Section 853 (a) - any and all property used will be forfeited. Dana Sollecito...now looking to make a deal with the US Government. Stay tuned.
Dick Blair March 18, 2012 at 06:05 PM
It is all over except for the regrets. The court rooms are open to the public The government is requesting no bail for 7 of the defendants and 'significant' bond for the rest if the court insists...otherwise the government is request detention for all. See you in Fereral Court...the government expects to wrap this up in six weeks.
Dick Blair March 19, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Read the indictment: http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/indictment.pdf
Bianca Richards March 20, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Dick, Where are you getting all this information. i feel like you have a connection to this case, and are able to get your hands on a lot of stuff we aren't aloud.
J Price March 20, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Did everyone forget Dr.Francis the Dr. who was caught selling oxycontin to students one block away from the high school He received 6mos probation. No jail time what is every one saying is going to happen here Think again
Kristen Ferrari March 20, 2012 at 11:38 PM
J Price, I didn't forget and that is the point I'm trying to make. Dr. Francis was big news in Massapequa. Everyone was up in arms. And then everyone went about their lives and Dr. Francis faded into the back round. This recent arrest is going to make a dent for how long? Does anyone believe the cases will be resolved in 6 weeks time? And does anyone believe that new dealers have not replaced the ones in jail? There is a demand which means there will be a supply. It is the nature of addiction.
Dick Blair March 21, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Bianca, I have no special connection. Everything is in the public domain. If you require a link for any information I will post it for you. It is just labor intensive to research some items. I post it for the "PATCH" because it is local and is a place where local folks can quickly get reliable information. Thanks.
Dick Blair March 21, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Looks like the accused from Massapequa has signed an Order of Excludable Delay and is engaged in plea negotiations in which it is believed will likely result in a disposition of her case without trial. A court appointed attorney and still in detention.
Dick Blair March 21, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Next court appearance scheduled for Friday, March 23 at 11:00 A.M. before Judge Spatt. Good luck to all of you.
Dick Blair March 21, 2012 at 05:37 PM
J Price It wasn't as simple as six months probation. Dr. Saji Francis also had the property at 4999 Merrick Road taken and suffered other consequences for his misdeed.
Dick Blair March 21, 2012 at 08:04 PM
The government filed a lis pendens on the property on 04/15/2010. It seems the estate of the previous owner (Dr. Stewart Panzer) was holding a partial mortgage for Dr. Saji Francis. Apparently Dr. Francis sold the house for $275,000 and had to pay Dr. Panzer's estate $182,334.60 and assorted legal fees. The rest went to the government. Multiple Listing Service #2451441 now has it on the market for $379,000. I'll let you know when the next open house is on the property and we call all look around.
Jane Einhorn March 22, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I happen to be a customer at the Corner Galley and can not say enough good about the restaurant and the owners. The young lady in question obviously suffers from a dependance on a drug. Where is your compassion Dick Blair? How do you condem someone before they are convicted of any crime? How can you put someone in harms way by your posts that are not proven yet? Pray that your 18 year old has not been a victim to the drug world and stop condeming!!! I agree with Tara and Kristen, get a life Mister and stop ruining others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dick Blair March 22, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Jane Einhorn Your words: "The young lady in question obviously suffers from a dependance on a drug.!!! " What nonsense. No one said she was a drug addict except you. She is NOT accused of using heroin. The United States government has accused her of selling heroin in Massapequa from the parking lot of the Corner Galley Restaurant. If you have a problem with that why don't you take it up with the United States Attorney's office? They are the ones that used wire taps, sworn testimony from confidential informants, and evidence obtained by undercover officers that made actual purchases to present a case to the Grand Jury that chose to indict.
Dick Blair March 22, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Jane Einhorn Your words: " I agree with Tara and Kristen, get a life Mister and stop ruining others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" More nonsense. Three blind mice or three peas in a pod...you tell me. I will tell you this, however, and there's none so blind as those who will not see. Chew on this...bringing heroin into Massapequa is runining lives. Deal with it.
diane cascini March 24, 2012 at 06:04 AM
one of the reasons moved out of precious massapequa park too much money leads to too much drugs.happier in the south
diane cascini March 24, 2012 at 06:25 AM
look at the high school their lies the problem.
brittany April 16, 2012 at 02:51 AM
dana i still love u.
Maryann M. April 26, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Mary . I'm glad they were caught. So many people have drug problems because of people like them and families are torn apart, let them rot in prison. Thats where they belong.
Kristen Ferrari April 26, 2012 at 02:17 PM
What we all need to realize is that jail time for low level or even high level drug dealers and offenders isn't doing much to stop the drug problem. People are still getting high and addicted despite the last big drug bust. Please don't mistake this as an argument not to punish offenders. I'm just pointing out that drugs are still a problem and will be a problem after the next bust and the next bust after that. What are we doing to combat addiction? Jail time and stricter laws are not solving the problem.
MHS fat pat the janitor October 02, 2012 at 07:45 PM
the high school has security gaurds inside and outside there is a card swipe everysingle door in the building is locked at all times and there is 785 survalence camras threw out the hole school building on 24 hours also there is police who come in during the night and day making sure its safe and during the night or in between classes they have the k9 unit come sniffing all the lockers. So dont blame the high school!. this comment also gos for diane so we are a very SAFE DRUG,ALCOHOL,VIOLENCE FREE ENVIOREMENT
Ugh December 27, 2012 at 05:57 AM
Anyone know what the status of this case is??
Steve December 28, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Please stop being your first name and making false accusations. Are you judge and jury. I think not...


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