Schenectady County

Drug ring case nets first two guilty pleas

State prosecutors won their first two guilty pleas Friday in the months-long investigation into a ma

State prosecutors won their first two guilty pleas Friday in the months-long investigation into a major Schenectady-based drug ring.

A third plea, expected Friday, fell through for drug “mule” suspect Misty Gallo as Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago rejected it, saying the prosecutor’s sentence offer was too low.

Lizvette Brenes and Gary Cherny each took deals Friday, pleading guilty to third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Brenes is to receive 3 1⁄2 years, while Cherny is to receive four years.

Gallo had been expected to take a deal as well, but Drago refused to sign off on any deal that was anything less than 5 1⁄2 years. Drago also expressed concern that a prosecutor-proposed four-year sentence was reported by The Daily Gazette before she had a chance to consider it.

Gallo attorney Stephen Rockmacher noted in court that he had told his client the offer would need the judge’s approval before it became final. Gallo appeared emotional as Drago explained her decision.

The case was rescheduled for June 13, to allow Gallo to consider the deal further.

The three were among 24 indicted last month, accused of taking part in the drug operation that authorities have said had designs on controlling the region’s drug market. The operation was allegedly headed by Oscar Mora and Kerry Kirkem. Also indicted was Lisa Kaczmarek, wife of former Schenectady police chief Greg Kaczmarek.

Mora, 30, of Plank Road, Waterford, faces sentencing Monday in an unrelated federal gun case. He has been offered up to 20 years in the state case.

Gallo’s case has been well documented. She, along with Cherny, Mora and Kirkem, were the first four to be arrested. They were taken into custody in March. Gallo is accused of being a drug mule for the operation, transporting cocaine and heroin from Long Island to Schenectady.

On one such trip, investigators used a ruse to take the shipment in order to monitor the organization’s reaction. Her frantic calls to Kirkem after discovering the drugs were gone were documented on state wiretaps.

Brenes, 33, of Maplewood Avenue, was also accused of being a mule, watched by surveillance as she and a co-defendant drove to Long Island on March 3.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Sharpe has said that trip took place the day before she gave birth.

When asked by Drago during routine pre-plea questioning if she was addicted to drugs or alcohol, she said that she wasn’t.

Cherny, under the same questioning, replied that he was addicted to heroin.

Cherny, 25, of Avenue A, also agreed to forfeit any claim to cellphones, a handgun and rifle seized from his apartment in March. It was an apartment authorities said was used as a stash house for the operation.

Cherny, along with codefendant Miles Smith, were accused in the indictment of moving a safe used to store cash, weapons and drugs from a Union Street apartment to Avenue A. Smith is the son of Lisa Kaczmarek.

During the March 12 raid, authorities said they also found more than 10 ounces of cocaine.

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