Former Marion County Deputy Sheriff Sentenced to Fifteen Years in Prison on Drug and Gun Charges
Ocala, Florida - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces today that U.S. District Judge John Antoon, II sentenced former Marion County Deputy Sheriff Nicholas M. Ragosta (40, Ocala) to fifteen years in federal prison for conspiracy, possession with intent to sell marijuana, and use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. As part of the sentence, the court also entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $240,000.
Nicholas Ragosta was found guilty by a federal jury on January 6, 2012. According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, in May 2009, Nicholas Ragosta, Andrew Ragosta, and Robert Abbott came up with a plan to steal four hundred pounds of marijuana from Nelson Daniel Schena, who lived in Hialeah, Florida. This plan was finalized at a meeting that took place at Nicholas Ragosta's house. Abbott and Andrew Ragosta represented to Schena that there was a buyer in Marion County who wanted to purchase the marijuana. Because of this expected sale, Schena and two associates brought 400 pounds of marijuana, valued at approximately $240,000, from the Miami area up to Marion County on May 15, 2009.
Schena and his associates met with Abbott and Andrew Ragosta at Abbott’s house on May 15, 2009. While at Abbott’s house, the four hundred pounds of marijuana was placed into Andrew Ragosta’s van. Schena was told by Abbott and Andrew Ragosta to follow Andrew Ragosta to the house of a buyer, who would then pay for the marijuana. Unknown to Schena, he and his associates were being lured to a location where the marijuana could be stolen. The travel route was pre-planned and a location had been scouted out for Deputy Nicholas Ragosta to make a traffic stop, while in uniform, and while utilizing his Sheriff’s Office marked patrol car.
As had been planned, Andrew Ragosta made a rolling stop through a pre-determined stop sign, and Deputy Nicholas Ragosta, who was parked nearby, turned on his blue lights and conducted a traffic stop.
A confrontation ensued at the scene of the traffic stop and Deputy Ragosta drew his firearm after Schena exited the vehicle. Andrew Ragosta then drove away with the marijuana, and was followed by Nicholas Ragosta, who tried to make it appear that he was giving chase. The marijuana was later sold and the profits were divided among Andrew Ragosta, Abbott, and Nicholas Ragosta.
This case was investigated by Drug Enforcement Administration, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Marion County Sheriff's Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Samuel D. Armstrong.
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A. Lee Bentley, III
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the Middle District of Florida
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