25 indicted in Erie federal case
- Indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Erie charges 25 defendants with drug-related offenses over two years, starting in 2020
- As of Thursday, 19 defendants have been arrested, U.S. Attorney’s Office said in court records
- Case is one of largest of its kind to be tried in federal court in Erie recently
In one of the largest drug case brought forth recently in U.S. District Court in Erie, 25 people have been indicted on charges that they conspired to deal cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl or dealt the drugs on their own, with the suspected operation stretching from Puerto Rico to Florida to Erie over two years, starting in 2020.
Two of the defendants are also accused of traveling to Arizona and using the mail to ship fentanyl.
The seven-count indictment was returned on Tuesday and unsealed on Thursday, after the U.S. Attorney’s Office said 19 of the defendants had been arrested, according to court records.
The government has requested that the defendants be detained while they await trial. The defendants are to be arraigned before at the federal courthouse in Erie. All the arraignments had not been scheduled as of Thursday afternoon.
As with many federal criminal cases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the indictment lists only the basic allegations against the 25 defendants. The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Sellers, based in Erie, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The indictment does not list addresses, but a number of the defendants are known to have lived in Erie, based on other court records.
A news conference on the case is scheduled for Friday morning at Erie City Hall, according to Erie police, another indication that the charges are related to Erie.
Not all the defendants are charged with the same counts, though the defendants overlap in some instances.
The lead defendant is Miguel Antonio Pabon Rivera, accused of trafficking in 5 or more kilograms of cocaine from January 2020 to May of this year, according to the indictment. Rivera was arrested in Florida, according to court records filed on Thursday. He is to be transferred from U.S. District Court in Orlando to U.S. District Court in Erie.
The other defendants, in the order they appear on the indictment, are
- Eric Suarez Robles
- Victor Felix Ogando DeLeon
- Limarys Quiles Negron
- Pedro Rosado Ortiz
- Enrique Cotto
- Maria Del Pilar Rivera
- Gloria Maria Robles Gonzalez
- Felix Jimenez Lopez
- Kechawn Jabre Douglas
- Vincent Andrew Feliciano
- Luis Anthony Lopez, also known as Nay Nay
- Jamir Marcel Feliciano
- Alexander Feliciano, also known as Andy
- Tymeen Deltuan Williams
- Peter Daniel Gambill Jr.
- Dikwan Onnyx Plott
- Ashliannie Zayas Agosto
- William David Condon Jr.
- Maurice Ali Fortune Jr.
- Isaiah Jechaun Camp
- Dante Lashawn Husband
- Quincy Aaron McCloud
- Tina Marie Defoy
- Shana Latrice Mathis, also known as Shaina Mathis
Court records filed Thursday show that Robles, listed second-highest on the indictment, was also arrested in Florida. He is to be transferred to U.S. District Court in Erie from U.S. District Court in Orlando.
Maria Rivera, DeFoy, Agosto and Mathis were arraigned Thursday. They pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Richard A. Lanzillo, according to court records. He released them an unsecured bonds of $10,000. The arraignments were held by video.
Also on Thursday, Lanzillo held what are called initial appearances — brief hearings that can precede arraignments — via video for Negron, Ortiz, Cotto, Felix Lopez, Douglas, Luis Lopez, Vincent Feliciano, Alexander Feliciano, Williams, Plott, Fortune, McCloud and Gambill.
Lanzillo ordered them held in prison pending detention hearings on Friday, Monday and Tuesday, according to court records. Also scheduled for those days are their arraignments, at which they will enter pleas.
The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy and other counts involving cocaine, fentanyl and meth. The charges, according to the indictment:
● Conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine from January 2020 to May of this year in Florida, Puerto Rico and the federal Western District of Pennsylvania, which includes Erie.
Those charged under the conspiracy count with trafficking in 5 or more kilograms of cocaine are Rivera, Robles, DeLeon, Negron, Ortiz, Cotto, Rivera, Douglas and Agosto. Gonzales and Felix Lopez are charged under the count with trafficking in 500 or more grams of cocaine.
● Conspiracy to commit money laundering between February 2020 and this May in the Western District of Pennsylvania and Florida. Rivera and Robles are charged.
Another large-scale federal case:Mexican national gets 18 years for dealing kilos of cocaine from auto shop he owned in Erie
● Conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, meth or fentanyl from February to May of this year in the Western District of Pennsylvania “and elsewhere,” according to the indictment.
Charged are Douglas (a quantity of meth and 5 or more kilograms of cocaine), Vincent Feliciano (500 or more grams of cocaine, 400 or more grams of fentanyl and 50 or more grams of meth), Luis Lopez (500 or more grams of cocaine, 400 or more grams of fentanyl and 50 or more grams of meth), Jamir Feliciano (a quantity of fentanyl and 500 or more grams of meth), Alexander Feliciano (a quantity of meth and 400 or more grams of fentanyl), Williams (a quantity of cocaine and a quantity meth and more than 400 grams of fentanyl), Gambill (500 or more grams of cocaine and 40 or more grams of fentantyl).
Also charged under the conspiracy count are Plott (500 or more grams of cocaine), Condon (a quantity of fentanyl and 50 or more grams of meth), Fortune (a quantity of cocaine), McCloud (50 or more grams of meth and a quantity of cocaine and a quantity off fentanyl, Defoy (a quantity of fentanyl) and Mathis (400 or more grams of fentanyl).
● Use of the mail in interstate commerce in aid of a “business enterprise” involving illegal drugs between February 28 and March 3 of this year. Vincent Feliciano and Luis Lopez are accused of traveling from Pennsylvania to Arizona and using the mail for a business enterprise involving 400 more grams of fentanyl.
● Possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 or more grams of meth in the Western District of Pennsylvania on March 15. Camp is charged.
● Possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 or more grams of meth in the Western District of Pennsylvania on March 24. Husband and McCloud are charged.
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● Possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 or more grams of meth in the Western District of Pennsylvania on April 18. Luis Lopez is charged.
The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.
The defendants would face stiff sentences if convicted, according to court records.
The conspiracy counts related to 5 or more kilograms of cocaine and 400 or more grams of fentanyl carry prison sentences of a mandatory minimum of 10 years to a maximum of life. The mandatory minimum increases to 15 years if the defendant has a prior felony conviction related to drugs or violence and 25 years with two or more such prior felony convictions.
Convictions on the other counts carry sentences ranging from five years up to 20 years.
The drug case, though one of the largest of its kind to be prosecuted recently in federal court in Erie, comes as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Erie is also prosecuting one of the largest white-collar crime cases in federal court in Erie.
That case — in which the indictment was returned in November — involves 21 defendants. The Erie-based Hertel & Brown Physical & Aquatic Therapy, its two founders and 18 employees are accused of conspiring to defraud Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers of more than $22 million over 14 years, from the time Hertel & Brown was founded in 2007 to October 2021.
Baxter is also assigned the Hertel & Brown case. She is weighing a decision on whether to grant separate trials to three of the defendants.
Also in federal court:U.S. Attorney’s Office reiterates defendants’ cooperation in Hertel & Brown fraud case