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Hamburg man pleads guilty to selling cocaine

STAFF REPORTS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Joseph C. Paternostro, 28, of Hamburg, NY, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a fine of $10,000,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan A. Tokash, who is handling the case, stated that between July 2016 and May 2, 2017, the defendant regularly purchased cocaine from a source of supply in Dunkirk, NY on a weekly basis for resale to local customers. On February 9, 2017, and February 16, 2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted two undercover purchases of cocaine from Paternostro.

On November 16, 2017, law enforcement officers surveilled the defendant’s vehicle and conducted a probable cause traffic stop. Officers recovered cocaine from Paternostro’s pocket. Officers also executed a New York State search warrant at the defendant’s residence on Lake Heights in Hamburg. During the search, a quantity of cocaine was seized, as well as a drug scale with cocaine residue, and drug packaging material.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, under the direction of Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Geraci; and the Evans Police Department, under the direction of Chief Douglas Czora.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 18, 2018, at 2:30 p.m. before Judge Geraci.