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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Oregon Man Pleads Guilty To His Role In Cross Country Marijuana Conspiracy

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

OREGON MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO HIS ROLE IN
CROSS COUNTRY MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY 

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Robert Fiels, 33, Springfield, Oregon, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $10,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua A. Violanti, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant served as the source of supply for individuals that trafficked marijuana and marijuana-based products across the country. Fiels utilized individuals, including co-defendant Syed Ahmad and others, to deliver the marijuana and marijuana-based products. Others, including co-defendant Frank Vacanti, then distributed the marijuana to individuals such as co-defendant Vincent Lopresti, who then sold the marijuana and marijuana products across Western New York. Between late 2016, and June 2019, Fiels trafficked approximately 1,800lbs of marijuana to one individual.

In January 2017, the defendant was stopped by DEA-Chicago and Amtrak Police while traveling from Buffalo, NY to Chicago, Illinois. After questioning and providing consent, DEA-Chicago seized $222,965.00 in drug proceeds located in the defendant’s suitcases. On December 31, 2017, in Morgan County, Illinois, local law enforcement and the DEA, recovered approximately 1,000 lbs. of marijuana from an RV driven by co-defendant Syed Ahmad and another individual. The marijuana belonged to Fiels and was destined for locations around the United States. On January 18, 2018, the defendant was stopped in a vehicle for traveling too fast for conditions in Hobart, Indiana by local law enforcement. During a search his vehicle, law enforcement seized $48,000 in drug proceeds. On February 10, 2020, law enforcement in Springfield, Oregon seized approximately $15,000 in drug proceeds sent to the defendant via USPS. 

On June 29, 2020, law enforcement executed search warrants at three locations in the State of Oregon associated with Fiels, including his residence, work apartment, and the residence of his former girlfriend. Law enforcement recovered marijuana, marijuana-based products, USPS parcels, drug paraphernalia, packing materials, scales, psychedelic mushrooms, two firearms, and liquid steroids. 

Charges remain pending against Syed Ahmad, Frank Vacanti, and Vincent Lopresti. 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 Homeland Security Investigations Buffalo, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Scarpino; HSI Portland, under the direction of Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Clifford Jones; HSI Springfield, Illinois, under the direction of Acting Resident Agent-in-Charge Eric Bowers; the Illinois State Police, under the direction of Director Brendan F. Kelly; the Oregon State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Terri Davie; the Morgan County, Illinois Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff’s Office Director Mike Carmody; the Hobart, Indiana Police Department, under the direction of Chief Richard W. Zormier; and the Springfield, Oregon Police Department, under the direction of Chief Andrew Shearer.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 17, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Vilardo.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated October 5, 2021