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Press Release

Buffalo Felon Pleads Guilty To Drug And Gun Charges, His Girlfriend Admits Lying To Authorities

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

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Frankie Cook, 28, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to possession with intent to distribute 100 grams of heroin and 40 grams of fentanyl and being a felon in possession of a firearm, which carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years and a $5,000,000 fine. In addition, Shawntee Ellison, 28, also of Buffalo, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles E. Watkins, who is handling the case, stated that on February 11, 2020, in Erie County Court, Cook was convicted of Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm. On February 26, 2020, Erie County Probation officers went to Cook’s residence on Dartmouth Avenue in Buffalo, for an initial information visit. During the visit, officers discovered what appeared to be a drug preparation station with gloves, masks, and plastic bags in the basement. Officers then searched the basement and found a hidden safe with approximately 240 grams of fentanyl, 156 grams of heroin, drug paraphernalia, a .45 caliber magazine, .45 caliber ammunition, 9mm ammunition, and a stolen loaded 9mm handgun inside.

Shawntee Ellison knew that Cook possessed the heroin and fentanyl, and the firearm, but failed to notify the proper federal law enforcement authorities. She also took steps to conceal Cook’s actions, including falsely telling law enforcement authorities that she did not know about the heroin, fentanyl, and firearm in the safe at her residence or that Cook was involved in distributing controlled substances.

The pleas are the result of an investigation by the Erie County Probation Department, under the direction of Commissioner Michelle Olszowy; the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff John Garcia; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia.

Frankie Cook is scheduled to be sentenced on September 1, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. and Shawntee Ellison is scheduled to be sentenced on September 23, 2022, at 10:00 a.m., both before Judge Vilardo.              

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Updated April 26, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses