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Justice News

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Former Store Owner Pleads Guilty To Drug Charge

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

Rochester, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Charles Fitzgerald, 39, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.  The charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a fine of $2,000,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Noto, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant admitted that on July 25, 2012, he possessed with intent to distribute various synthetic controlled substances and synthetic controlled substance analogues at both his residence in Rochester and at one of the stores that he owned, the 420 Emporium located in Batavia, NY. As part of the plea agreement, Fitzgerald will forfeit $771,109 in United States currency that was seized during the execution of a search warrant at his residence at 221 West Hills Estates on July 25, 2012.

Three employees of Fitzgerald’s, who worked at the 420 Emporium stores located in Batavia and Henrietta, NY, have also been convicted in this case and are awaiting sentencing.

“This case demonstrates how by working together, the community and law enforcement can improve the quality of life for all,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “In this case, a rash of emergency room visits due to overdoses of synthetic drugs was brought to our attention by concerned members of the community, including the media. Law enforcement immediately engaged, and within several months, was able to execute search warrants throughout Western New York and make arrests of those selling such illegal and highly dangerous substances. With this conviction, we are able to report that the entire investigation was a success.”

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division, and the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), under the direction of Major Wayne C. Olson

Sentencing is scheduled for April 15, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. before Judge Geraci.

Updated January 22, 2015