Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England; Robert Fuller, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Michael J. Krol, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New England; today announced that a federal grand jury in New Haven has returned an indictment charging the following 14 individuals with offenses related to the large-scale trafficking of fentanyl and methamphetamine pills disguised as legitimate prescription medication, as well as other controlled substances:
WILLIS TAYLOR, 66, of West Haven
AQUARIUS GUMBS, a.k.a. “Q,” “Ice,” and “Diamond,” 48, of New Haven
SEAN PEPE, 38, of East Haven
GORDON LAURIA, 52, of New Haven
PAUL PAOLELLA, 52, of East Haven
PETER ABLONDI TAYLOR, 20, of North Branford
MARK APOTRIAS, 54, of North Branford
THOMAS JOSLIN, 63, of East Haven
DAVID KING, 58, of East Haven
RICHARD GREATSINGER, 26, of West Haven
CHRISTOPHER CAHILL, 55, of Florida
MARKOS PAPPAS, a.k.a. “Speedy,” 49, of New Haven
LISA FAUSEL, 59, of Milford
JULIO ECHEVARRIA, a.k.a. “Warrior, 42, of New Haven
As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, this matter stems from an investigation by the FBI’s New Haven Safe Streets/Gang Task Force and the DEA New Haven’s Tactical Diversion Squad targeting the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit oxycodone tablets containing fentanyl and counterfeit Adderall tablets containing methamphetamine, and the distribution of heroin and cocaine, in the New Haven area. The investigation revealed that Willis Taylor, with the assistance of Paul Paolella, Gordon Lauria, and others, coordinated the manufacture of the counterfeit pills, which Taylor distributed to Sean Pepe, and Taylor’s son, Peter Ablondi Taylor, for further distribution. Pepe supplied pills to Christopher Cahill and others. Willis Taylor also arranged counterfeit pill transactions between second and third parties, including Mark Apotrias, Thomas Joslin, and David King, and used Aquarius Gumbs as a source of supply for some of these transactions. Gumbs also distributed controlled substances to his own customers, including Richard Greatsinger. Marcos Pappas, Lisa Fausel and Julio Echevarria, also conspired to distribute controlled substances.
During the investigation, investigators seized more than two kilograms of fentanyl, including thousands of counterfeit Oxycodone tablets; approximately two kilograms of methamphetamine, including thousands of counterfeit Adderall pills; three kilograms of cocaine and other drugs; four pill-press machines; one industrial mixer; five firearms; and more than $200,000 in cash.
Thirteen of the defendants were arrested on federal criminal complaints last week. Pepe is currently in state custody.
On April 4, 2023, the grand jury returned an indictment charging each defendant with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, controlled substances. If convicted of this offense, based on the type and quantity of controlled substances attributable to each defendant, Willis Taylor and Paolella face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; Pepe, Pappas, and Fausel face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years; and the remaining defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. In addition, the indictment charges Willis Taylor, Gumbs, Pepe, Paolella, and Greatsinger with one or more counts related to the possession and distribution of controlled substances.
The indictment also charges both Gumbs and Pepe with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years, and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, an offense that carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least five years.
U.S. Attorney Avery stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the DEA New Haven’s Tactical Diversion Squad, the FBI’s New Haven Safe Streets/Gang Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Marshals Service. The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad is composed of personnel from the DEA and the Manchester, Glastonbury, West Haven, Hamden, Newington, and Bristol Police Departments. The FBI Task Force includes participants from the FBI, the Connecticut State Police, the Connecticut Department of Correction, and the New Haven, Milford, East Haven, West Haven, and Wallingford Police Departments.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah P. Karwan and Tara E. Levens, in coordination with the New Haven and Milford State’s Attorney’s Offices.
This case is being prosecuted through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.