By Patrick Donachie
Suspects in a 12-month drug trafficking operation allegedly spearheaded by John J. Gotti, the grandson of the famed mobster John Gotti, were charged in Queens Criminal Court Aug. 4 with possession, criminal selling of a controlled substance and money laundering.
The charges were announced by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. In total, seven defendants were arrested for their suspected involvement in the illegal sale of pharmaceutical controlled substances, including Oxycodone and Xanax, in the areas of Howard Beach and Ozone Park.
“In recent months, we have seen a significant rise in the use and abuse of prescription painkillers,” Brown said about the arrests. “Drugs such as Oxycodone are extremely potent and have a high potential for abuse and death.”
The investigation required an array of investigative tools and techniques, including surveillance, undercover buy operations, warranted wiretapping and a listening device planted in Gotti’s vehicle, according to officials.
Gotti was the primary seller of the organization, according to Brown. Justin Testa, 41, of Ozone Park, and Steve Kruger, 57, of Howard Beach, were charged with being Gotti’s primary suppliers, according to the DA.. Kruger was recorded offering to supply Gotti with Oxycodone, which he would then sell for about $23 to $24 per pill, the DA said Officers undertook 11 undercover buys from Gotti in the period from April 22 to July 28, purchasing $48,080 of Oxycodone pills from Gotti, the DA said. Ten of the 11 buys conducted by undercover officers were captured on video and audio.
Shaine Hack, 37, of Howard Beach, was also arrested and accused of storing records and money for Gotti, according to the criminal complaint. He also allegedly helped to arrange transactions for Gotti, who said on a wiretapped conversation he was leaving proceeds and records of the drug transactions with Hack to ensure that the police would not retrieve the evidence if his house was raided, according to the DA.
Michael Farduchi, 24, of Ozone Park, and Melissa Erul, 23, of Lynnbrook, L.I., were charged with selling Oxycodone for Gotti, while Dawn Biers, 46, of Ozone Park, and Eleanor Gabrielli, 27, of Howard Beach, were accused of possession, according to the DA.
During a traffic stop on June 30 in Howard Beach, Gotti was found to be driving without a license, as his license had been suspended. During the fulfillment of a search warrant, officers found about 50 Oxycodone pills in Gotti’s black Jeep and found about 480 pills in his bedroom, according to Gotti’s criminal complaint. According to the DA, officers also uncovered $7,000 in money that was given to Gotti during drug sale operations conducted by undercover police officers who purchased Oxycodone, the DA said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona