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Buffalo man admits to selling fentanyl that led to 5 deaths

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Robert Moore, 41, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to distribution of fentanyl causing death. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $1,000,000 fine.  Pursuant to the plea agreement between the parties, Moore faces between 20 and 22½ years imprisonment when he is sentenced.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that between February 2015 and March 16, 2017, the defendant worked with his brother Reese Moore, Kevin Abernathy, Joshua Levine, and others to distribute heroin and fentanyl in the City of Buffalo and surrounding suburbs. Robert Moore used cell phones to schedule meetings in and around Buffalo where he personally distributed quantities of heroin and fentanyl. When the defendant was not available, he sent co-defendants Reese Moore and Kevin Abernathy to sell the heroin and fentanyl to customers. Joshua Levine was a customer of Robert Moore who used the heroin and fentanyl, but also re-distributed quantities for profit to other users.

Robert Moore pleaded guilty to selling the heroin and fentanyl that caused the death of one individual, but he also admitted to selling the heroin and fentanyl that led to the overdose deaths of four other individuals.   

• On May 15, 2015, defendant Moore distributed heroin and fentanyl to another individual who used the heroin and fentanyl with J.J., and J.J. died as a result of ingesting the heroin and fentanyl defendant Moore supplied.
• On March 12, 2016, defendant Moore distributed heroin and fentanyl to others, who provided it to S.S. S.S. used the heroin and fentanyl and died as a result of using the heroin and fentanyl defendant Moore supplied.
• On March 15, 2016, defendant Moore distributed fentanyl to others, who provided it to J.P. J.P. used the fentanyl and died as a result of using the fentanyl defendant Moore supplied.
• On January 8, 2017, defendant Moore distributed fentanyl to another person, who provided it to C.G. C.G. used the fentanyl and died as a result of using the fentanyl defendant Moore supplied.
• On February 18, 2017, defendant Moore distributed heroin and fentanyl to Joshua Levine who distributed a quantity of the heroin and fentanyl to B.G. B.G. used the heroin and fentanyl and died as a result of using the heroin and fentanyl supplied by defendant Moore and Joshua Levine.

On November 27, 2015, Robert Moore’s vehicle was stopped by Buffalo Police. Officers seized 15 bags of heroin and seven bags of butyryl and $1000 in U.S. currency.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers from the Amherst, Lancaster, and the Buffalo Police Departments, and the New York State Police and DEA, conducted 11 controlled purchases of fentanyl and butyryl fentanyl from Robert Moore.

Robert Moore was arrested on March 16, 2017, at which time law enforcement officers searched his residence on Glenwood Drive in Williamsville, NY. Investigators seized 202 bags of fentanyl and numerous cellular telephones, including the cell phone Kevin Abernathy used to make sales of heroin and fentanyl to Robert Moore's customers. The search also resulted in the seizure of items the defendant obtained as a result of his heroin and fentanyl distribution activities, including assorted valuable pieces of jewelry and a 2009 Audi S5 Quattro.

Reese Moore and Kevin Abernathy were previously convicted and are awaiting sentencing. Charges remain pending against Joshua Levin. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

“Stated simply, by his plea today, the defendant admitted to being responsible for the deaths of five members of our community,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “While today’s plea and the lengthy prison sentence, which is sure to follow, will never bring back those who died as a result of taking the drugs they got from Robert Moore, today’s plea should serve as a warning to those who remain out on the streets peddling this poison. The United States Attorney’s Office, together with our partners in federal, state, and local law enforcement, will work together tirelessly to find you, to build a case against you, and to hold you accountable for your actions. We do it in order to protect lives, to bring some measure of closure and justice to those who have lost a loved one to a drug overdose, and finally, to send the message that in the eyes of the law enforcement community here in Western New York–all lives matter.”

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Division; the Amherst Police Department, under the direction of Chief John C. Askey; the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), under the direction of Major Mary Clark, and Lieutenant Kevin Reyes; the Lancaster Police Department, under the direction of Chief William J. Karn, Jr.; the Buffalo Police Department Narcotics Squad, under the direction of Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood; the Lockport Police Department, under the direction of Interim Police Chief Steve Preisch; the Depew Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jerome Miller; the Niagara County Sherriff’s Office and the Niagara County Drug Task Force, under the direction of Sheriff James Voutour; the Erie County Sherriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in Charge Kevin Kelly.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 3, 2020, before Judge Vilardo.

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