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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Elmira man pleads guilty to threatening witness

All WNY News     Wednesday, June 28, 2017    

STAFF REPORTS



ROCHESTER -- Isaiah L. McLaurin, 27, of Elmira, pleaded guilty to witness tampering before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey, who is handling the case, stated that on May 17, 2017, the defendant made threats against an individual that he believed was cooperating in a drug investigation in the Elmira area. McLaurin intended to prevent that person from testifying and providing information to law enforcement authorities about the drug trafficking organization.

On May 16, 2017, four individuals—Robert Ian Thatcher, Maximillian Sams, Dwayne Banks, and Carlito Rios, Jr.—were arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint with various drug trafficking and firearms 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.

On May 16, 2017, 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 were also published on the Star Gazette’s website with the article. In the supporting affidavit, certain confidential sources were referenced by anonymous designations (including “CC-1” and “CS-2”).
The following day, May 17, 2017, 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 Isaiah L. McLaurin.  One post stated:
Isaiah Mclaurin
Facts somebody better have this N**** in protective custody cause if he thinks he can just pick his daughter up from school and everything’s gonna be ok.  He got it coming
In these Facebook posts, McLaurin publicly identified the individual – referred to as Individual A – that he believed 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.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Richard Allen; the Elmira Police Department, under the direction of Chief Joseph Kane; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James C. Spero; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan Benedict, New York Field Division; and the Pennsylvania State Police, under the direction of Commissioner Colonel Tyree C. Blocker.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 28 before Chief Judge Geraci.

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