Niagara Falls Police Officer, Two Others Charged With Selling Cocaine
(BUFFALO, N.Y - - Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA), New York Division and Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Raymond C. Hopson, Lindsay R. Carrier, Jr., and Stephanie A. Costanzo, a Niagara Falls Police Officer, who has since resigned, were charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute cocaine and maintaining a premises for manufacturing, distributing and using cocaine, and marijuana. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Violanti, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendants were involved in a cocaine conspiracy between July 27, 2016, and November 9, 2016. During that time, defendant Hopson sold cocaine to an undercover police officer on multiple occasions.
On November 9, 2016, a search warrant was executed at 2930 Grand Avenue in Niagara Falls, the residence of defendant Hopson and Stephanie Costanzo. Costanzo was at home during the search. During the search, officers observed a bedroom on the second floor that was locked. Costanzo was asked why the bedroom was locked, and she gave officers a key for the door. Inside the bedroom, officers found a plastic sandwich bag containing a gram of marijuana, a second plastic bag containing over five grams of cocaine, a small black digital scale next to plastic bags, an open container of creatine which is used as a cutting agent for cocaine, and cash. In the master bedroom, where Costanzo and Hopson slept, officers found a small orange plastic container containing more than five grams of suspected cocaine, scattered marijuana, a marijuana grinder shaped like a pistol cylinder, several sandwich bags, and an empty gun magazine.
Also on November 9, 2016, officers searched 2407 Willow Avenue in Niagara Falls, the residence of Lindsay’s Carrier’s mother. During that search, police found cash, a black digital scale, four clear plastic bags containing nearly 80 grams of crack cocaine, two clear plastic bags containing nearly 61 grams of cocaine, a clear bag containing hydrocodone pills, and two clear glass jars containing 10 grams of marijuana.
The defendants made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Roemer on December 13, 2016. Costanzo was released, Hopson and Carrier remain in custody.
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt stated, “There is no excuse for a law enforcement officer to tarnish their badge in exchange for profit. While the good men and women in law enforcement conducted this investigation with integrity and diligence, they dismantled a major cocaine trafficking organization in Niagara County and arrested a dirty cop. By being a watchdog in our communities, we will continue to weed out drug trafficking organizations and those involved, at all levels.”
“The vast majority of those of us involved in law enforcement take seriously our obligation to uphold our oath of office,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “This case shows how those that do will take action to remove those that don’t.”
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Niagara Falls Police department, under the direction of Superintendent Bryan Dalporto, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, Buffalo Resident Office- New York Division, and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
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.