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Buffalo man pleads guilty for his role in cocaine conspiracy and to fleeing from authorities

STAFF REPORTS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Lawrence Russell, a/k/a Mucho, 41, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of crack cocaine, and failure to appear after pre-trial release. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, who is handling the case, stated that between January 2013 and January 23, 2015, the defendant conspired with John Nelson, a/k/a Sunny, and others to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine.

On six occasions between May 2014 and January 2015, Russell personally, or with co-defendant Nelson, sold quantities of cocaine and/or crack cocaine to an individual working with the FBI. Four of the six sales occurred at 165 14th Street in Buffalo, the defendant’s residence. Prior to these controlled purchases, the individual working with the FBI purchased cocaine and crack cocaine weekly from the defendant and co-defendant Nelson for at least a full year between January 2013 and January 2014.

Russell was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 15, 2017. On March 3, 2017, the defendant was released on conditions, including electronic monitoring. On December 1, 2017, Russell cut his ankle monitor and fled after admitting to his United States Probation Officer that he had violated a no-alcohol condition of release. During that conversation, the Probation Officer directed the defendant to report to the United States Probation Office immediately but the defendant failed to comply. On January 9, 2018, Russell failed to appear for a scheduled change of plea hearing Judge Vilardo, and remained at large until May 23, 2018, when he was apprehended by the United States Marshals Service in North Carolina.

Co-defendant John Nelson was previously convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert, the U.S. Probation Department, under the direction of Anthony SanGiacomo, and the United States Marshals Service in North Carolina.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 29, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Vilardo.