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Elmira man charged with threatening witness


ROCHESTER -- Isaiah L. McLaurin, 27, of Elmira, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with witness tampering. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey, who is handling the case, stated that the complaint alleges that, on May 17 and 18, the defendant made threats against an individual that he believed was cooperating in a drug investigation in the Elmira area. McLaurin’s intent was to prevent that individual from testifying and providing information to law enforcement authorities about the drug trafficking organization.

On May 16, four individuals – Robert Ian Thatcher, Maximillian Sams, Dwayne Banks, and Carlito Rios, Jr., were arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint with various offenses including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, quantities of furanyl fentanyl, a Schedule I controlled substance, and U-47700, a Schedule I controlled substance, during the time period from November 29, 2016 through May 16, 2017.

On May 16, an article about the arrests and investigation was published on the website for the Star Gazette, the local newspaper in Elmira. The article was entitled, “Four face federal charges in Elmira drug investigation.” A digital copy of the complaint and supporting affidavit was also published on the website with the article.  In the supporting affidavit, certain confidential sources were referenced by anonymous designations (including “CS-1” and “CS-2”).

On May 17, a member of law enforcement observed a series of public Facebook comments related to the investigation described in the article on a Facebook page bearing the user name “Isaiah Mclaurin” and a profile picture of the defendant.  One post stated:
Facts somebody better have this (expletive) in protective custody cause if he thinks e can just pick his daughter up from school and everything’s gonna be ok.  He got it coming
McLaurin publicly identified the individual – referred to as Individual A – who he believes is one of the confidential sources referenced in the complaint against Thatcher, Sams, Banks and Rios, and threatened both Individual A and Individual A’s child.

McLaurin made an initial appearance and is being held pending a detention hearing on Tuesday.