Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Thursday, November 14, Garry Michel, 48, of the Town of Wallkill, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown, to Conspiracy in the Second Degree in connection with a conspiracy to sell narcotic pills, which were marketed to buyers as containing oxycodone, but which contained fentanyl.
The pills were colored, stamped, and marked to appear to be oxycodone pills. Michel is the latest and last of the original twenty-six defendants who had been charged in an enforcement action dubbed “Operation Bread, White and Blues” to plead guilty. All of the other twenty-five defendants who had initially been charged in connection with the enforcement action have pleaded guilty to various felonies. Michel faces 12 ½ to 25 years in state prison when he is sentenced on May 18, 2020.
In addition to the original 26 defendants, the operation also resulted in the arrest of Gregg Marinelli, 38, of Plattekill, a police officer, who holds the rank of Sergeant with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police. Marinelli was charged with crimes including the following: Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Second Degree, for illegally selling more than five firearms in a one-year period; Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, (as an accessory); Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, (as an accessory for another person’s possession a weapon he defaced and sold); Manufacture/Disposition of a Weapon (for manufacturing numerous assault rifles); Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, (for conspiring to sell a loaded and defaced .40 caliber pistol), and Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree (for alerting a suspect that he was the target of a police investigation). Marinelli, is accused of manufacturing dozens of handguns and assault rifles, including at least one fully automatic assault rifle, and selling them to individuals who are legally barred from possessing such weapons.
Marinelli, who also faces felony charges in Ulster County, is next scheduled to appear in Orange County Court on December 2.
On February 5, 2019, members of the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team aided by the New York State Police Special Operations Response Team, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, executed multiple search warrants and made over twenty arrests throughout Orange County, and Rockland County. The arrests and search warrant executions were as a result of a six-month-long narcotics investigation. Law enforcement officials recovered more than $200,000, 25 handguns, one assault rifle, multiple rifles, ten vehicles, two motorcycles, over 2.5 pounds of cocaine and 1300 Fentanyl pills. In total 26 individuals were charged with felony narcotic offences.
Felony complaints filed in conjunction with the enforcement action outlined two separate conspiracies, one of which primarily involved members and associates of self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs trafficking cocaine, and another of which involved the sale of narcotic pills which were represented to contain oxycodone, but which contained fentanyl, a highly addictive and frequently lethal narcotic. The name of the operation refers to the co-conspirators use of the term “bread” to mean money they obtained through the sale of narcotics, “white” to represent the cocaine which was sold, and “blues” to represent the blue colored pills which were being trafficked.
In addition to filing criminal charges, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office also instituted civil forfeiture proceedings against many of the defendants in the conspiracies in order to seize from them profits that they have made illegally selling narcotics. To date, $553,468.58 in illegally obtained profits has been recovered as a result of the forfeiture actions. Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Mangold is conducting the civil forfeiture proceedings.
At the time Michel pleaded guilty, he admitted being a supplier for the conspiracy distributing pills. As part of the plea agreement placed on the record at the time Michel pleaded guilty, he agreed to forfeit $181,842 in illegally obtained drug proceeds. Michel is currently remanded to the Orange County Jail in lieu of bail that had been set in the amount of $1,000,000 cash or $3,000,000 bond. After the new Criminal Justice Reform legislation becomes effective on January 1, 2020, the District Attorney’s Office will no longer be able to request that bail be set for those accused of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, or Conspiracy in the Second Degree.
“The lethal nature of fentanyl has been well documented, and well publicized, and it is particularly insidious to trick buyers into thinking they are purchasing oxycodone, when they are in reality purchasing a much more powerful narcotic that can kill them with even a single dose,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “Although we will continue to emphasize education and treatment as important avenues to keep people off drugs in the first place, we must also continue to make it a priority to attack the supply of narcotics by seeking severe sanctions against higher level narcotics dealers. It is only through the cooperative efforts of various law enforcement agencies, and by conducting sophisticated narcotics investigations such as “Operation Bread, White and Blues” that we can disrupt the supply chains that push these deadly substances on our streets and which result in so many deaths.”