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Press Release

Jury Convicts Three Men of Trafficking Kilograms of Cocaine to Schenectady

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

ALBANY, NEW YORK – A jury voted today to convict three men of trafficking kilograms of cocaine to Schenectady, New York, in March and April 2021. 

Jeffrey C. Civitello, Sr., age 51, of Schenectady, his son Jeffrey C. Civitello Jr., age 23, of Schenectady, and Richard D. Sinde, age 58, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, were convicted on all counts following an 8-day trial.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Frank A. Tarentino III, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division, made the announcement.

The trial evidence demonstrated a conspiracy between five men: the three defendants on trial, as well as Christopher J. Kelly, age 56, of Brooklyn, New York, and Robert J. Ingrao, age 76, of Lodi, New Jersey. 

As part of the conspiracy, Kelly delivered 3 kilograms of cocaine to Civitello Sr. in Schenectady on March 29, and Kelly and Sinde delivered an additional 3 kilograms of cocaine to Civitello Sr. on March 31.

Also on March 31, the Civitellos ordered more cocaine and suggested that Kelly and Sinde use, as a transportation vehicle, a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee owned by Civitello Jr., which contained, in its trunk, a sophisticated, hidden compartment, also known as a “trap.” Unbeknownst to the conspirators, the DEA had placed a court-authorized tracker on the Jeep several months prior, as part of an investigation of Civitello Jr.

On March 31, Sinde then drove the Jeep from Schenectady to his residence in Fort Lee, and the following evening met Kelly in Breezy Point, New York, on the Rockaway Peninsula, where Kelly and Sinde loaded up the Jeep’s hidden compartment with 9 kilograms of cocaine to be delivered the following day to the Civitellos in Schenectady. Sinde then drove the Jeep home to Fort Lee.

The following day, on April 2, 2021, Ingrao went to Sinde’s house and got into the Jeep, and drove it north on Interstate 87 toward Schenectady.  A New York State Police Trooper, at the DEA’s request, conducted a stop on Ingrao in Greene County.  The Trooper then located 9 kilograms of cocaine in the Jeep’s hidden compartment.

The jury voted to convict all defendants of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, as well as possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance for the 3 kilograms of cocaine delivered on March 31. The jury also voted to convict Sinde of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and the Civitellos of attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, for the 9 kilograms of cocaine they tried to transport to Schenectady on April 2.

Following the jury’s verdict, Sinde and Civitello Sr. were remanded to custody.  Civitello Jr. has been in custody since October 21, 2021, when he was arrested by the DEA in Schenectady on unrelated charges of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possessing and intending to distribute marijuana. Those charges are merely accusations, and as to those charges, Civitello Jr. is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino will sentence the Civitellos on September 6, and will sentence Sinde on September 8.  Each man faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison, as well as at least 5 years of post-imprisonment supervised release.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.  Ingrao’s sentencing and Kelly’s sentencing are also pending. 

This case was investigated by the DEA’s Capital District Drug Enforcement Task Force, which includes DEA Special Agents and investigators from state and local police agencies, including the Saratoga Springs Police Department, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and the New York State Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Barnett and Dustin C. Segovia are prosecuting this case.

Updated April 26, 2023

Drug Trafficking