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Justice News

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

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Niagara Falls Man Pleads Guilty For His Role In Drug Conspiracy

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Wayne Payne, 63 of Niagara Falls, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum penalty of 40 years, and a fine of $5,000,000. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, who is handling the case, stated that between May 2017 and November 2017, the defendant conspired with Lavon Parks and others to sell cocaine in the Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY areas.  Specifically, Payne drove Parks to meet with other individuals to perform drug transactions and to collect drug proceeds from lower-level distributors who worked for Parks.  Defendant also drove Parks to meet with out-of-state suppliers, who provided bulk quantities of cocaine which would be transported back to Niagara Falls for distribution.

On November 30, 2017, during a trip to Houston, Texas, the defendant, Parks, and Parks’ father, James Parks, were stopped for several traffic infractions. A subsequent consensual search of the rental vehicle revealed four packages of cocaine wrapped with plastic and duct tape concealed in the spare tire area.

Lavon and James Parks are currently charged in federal court with narcotics conspiracy and discharge of firearm causing death involving the murder of Kevin Turner.   The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.  

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Superintendent Thomas Licata; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division; and the Lackawanna Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Michel.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 17, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Vilardo.

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Drug Trafficking
Updated February 27, 2020