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Justice News

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Two Individuals Indicted On Cocaine Charges

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

BUFFALO, N.Y.-Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Tyrone Pennick, 40, of Amherst, NY, and Geneva Smith, 30, of Buffalo, NY, with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine. The charge carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years.

Defendant Pennick is currently charged in a separate federal indictment for his role as the leader of a large-scale cocaine trafficking organization. In June 2014, Pennick was released under the condition of home incarceration.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel L. Violanti and Laura A. Higgins, who are handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, on November 17, 2016, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office conducted surveillance in the area of Pennick’s residence at 489 Emerson Drive in Amherst. Investigators observed a female, later identified as defendant Smith, leaving the residence carrying an open-top, tote style bag and entering a bronze colored Ford Flex.

Investigators continued to monitor the vehicle and noted that Smith began watching the surveillance vehicle closely in the rearview mirror. Smith subsequently began driving in an erratic manor at which point the defendant was observed reaching to the backseat area and moving the tote bag to the front seat. Investigators activated their emergency lights and conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle. Smith was detained and investigators removed what appeared to be two containers containing suspected cocaine from the tote bag.

A search warrant was then executed at Pennick’s residence at 489 Emerson Drive. Investigators recovered a metal press, digital scale, packaging material, a box of rubber gloves, a plastic bag containing disposable dust masks, a vacuum sealer, a vacuum sealed bag containing $49,990 in U.S. currency concealed in the dishwasher and a plastic bag containing suspected cocaine weighing approximately one ounce concealed in a box of oatmeal. Pennick was then arrested.  

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen.

           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.

Updated January 26, 2017