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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Buffalo Man Sentenced On Fraud Charge

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr., announced today that James Phillips, 31, of Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States, was sentenced to 30 months probation by Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.

Assistant U.S. Attorney George C. Burgasser, who handled the case, stated that on January 27, 2011, the defendant, along with co-defendants Mica Donadelle and Kevin Liburd, conspired to avoid the detection of $162,300 in drug proceeds at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Phillips was employed as a baggage handler at the airport at the time and was able to bypass Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening procedures. The defendant avoided screening and stored the money in an airport bathroom which was later picked up by Liburd.
In addition, between 2006 and December 2012, Donadelle conspired with Liburd and Renwick Samuel and Angel Gonzalez, to distribute cocaine in the City of Buffalo.

Donadelle, Samuel and Gonzalez have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing. Liburd was sentenced to eight months in prison.    

“Airports utilize strict security and screening procedures for a number of important reasons, chief among them, the safety of the traveling public,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “While the defendant’s actions in this case may have only been intended to aid a drug dealer, the potential threat posed by this defendant’s actions could have been far worse.”

Today’s sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Safe Streets Task Force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Updated September 25, 2015