Federal jury indicts alleged drug dealer
ROCHESTER--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced last week a federal grand jury has indicted a Penn Yan resident on multiple drug and gun charges. The jury returned a 13 count indictment Wednesday, March 16, charging James E. Sandford III, 28, with narcotics conspiracy, distribution of controlled substances within 1,000 feet of a school, distribution of controlled substances to persons under age 21 and possession of various controlled substances with intent to distribute them. The charges also included possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon and witness tampering. The drug charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $2 million fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Noto, who is handling the case, stated according to the superseding indictment, the defendant distributed synthetic cannabinoids (designer drugs) between July 2014 and March 24, 2015, in the Penn Yan area. During that time period, Sanford distributed synthetic controlled substances and controlled substance analogues, which are designed to mimic the effects of controlled substances, to individuals under the age of 21 and also within 1,000 feet of St. Michael School, a private elementary school in Penn Yan.
The superseding indictment further states that Feb. 22, 2015, the defendant traded synthetic cannabinoids with a minor in exchange for a stolen Savage .410 double-barrel shotgun. At the time, the defendant had two prior felony convictions preventing him from legally possessing a gun.
The defendant was initially arraigned on a criminal complaint in the Western District of New York June 4, 2015. Subsequent to his arrest on the federal charges, Sanford attempted to intimidate and threaten a suspected witness against him by shouting to that individual, "I'm not going to be in jail long. I will see you on the outside you snitch," with the intent to influence, delay or prevent the testimony of that suspected witness in the prosecution of defendant.
Sanford was arraigned Tuesday, March 22, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson. He is being detained pending trial in this matter.
The superseding indictment is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Office, the Penn Yan Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Hulse, the Yates County Sheriff's Department, under the direction of Ronald Spike, and the Yates County District Attorney's Office, under the direction of Valerie Gardner.