The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York announced on Oct. 23 that a 30-year-old Niagara Falls woman has been sentenced to serve 12 months in a federal prison for conspiring to possess crack cocaine with the intent to distribute the drug. The investigation that led to the woman’s prosecution and sentencing was conducted by law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, the Niagara County Drug Task Force and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
Controlled purchases and wire taps
According to court papers, the woman worked with her husband to distribute illegal drugs. Undercover investigators are said to have purchased drugs from the woman’s husband on six occasions over a 15-month period beginning in November 2015. When her husband was incarcerated at the Green Correctional Facility for a prior offense, investigators say the woman continued to work with him to distribute crack cocaine. Evidence against her was obtained by recording telephone conversations she had with her husband and arranging drug buys. Investigators say that they purchased drugs from the woman 16 times.
The woman was sentenced according to the terms of a plea agreement she entered into with federal prosecutors in September 2019. She could have been sent to prison for up to 40 years if she had been found guilty by a jury. The woman may have chosen to plead guilty after learning about the case that investigators had built. Her husband also pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 82 months in prison.
Reducing narcotics penalties
The outcome of this case shows that federal prosecutors may be willing to reduce the sentences for drug crimes significantly to avoid arguing in court even when law enforcement has gathered what appears to be overwhelming evidence of guilt. This is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise their clients to ask for a lawyer before answering questions no matter how dire their situations seem. Attorneys could explain that confessions should be made when suspects are offered something in return, and they may also point out that police officers and federal agents do not have the authority to make such offers.