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Police bust drug ring

Police bust drug ring

Eight former or current Skidmore College students face felony and other charges following a year and

Eight former or current Skidmore College students face felony and other charges following a year and a half investigation into drug activity in and around Saratoga Springs, city police said Thursday.

Lt. Gregory Veitch said the eight men, and a ninth suspect who was never affiliated with the college, were arrested on various charges over the past three months.

The drugs involved were cocaine, marijuana and LSD and some were purchased by undercover state police during the investigation that primarily took place in downtown Saratoga Springs, Veitch said.

“We’re now wrapping up the investigation and tying up loose ends,” he said.

State and federal agents assisted in the investigation that crossed state lines into Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Veitch would not say which out-of-state agencies were involved but said other, related arrests have been made.

“I can’t speak for the other agencies and they have said they don’t want to talk with [the New York] press,” he said. “The people arrested outside of New York were suppliers of the drugs.”

“The investigation began in late 2006 from information developed by the Saratoga Springs Police Department Patrol Division into drug activity in the downtown area,” Veitch said. The Saratoga Springs Police Department Special Investigations Unit as well as the New York State Community Narcotics Enforcement Team and the Albany Drug Enforcement Agency Northern District Task Force continued the investigation through 2007 and into 2008, he said.

The suspects were identified as:

u Esu McFadden, 20, Skidmore College, charged with three counts each of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance, and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

u Nathaniel Prinzi, 21, Skidmore College, charged with two counts each of third-degree criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

u Julian Rodier, 22, Saratoga Springs, charged with one count of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

u Samuel Miner, 21, Saratoga Springs, charged with one count each of third-degree criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

u Peter Lesser, 19, Skidmore College, charged with third-degree criminal sale of marijuana in the second-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

u Jonah Haviland-Markowitz, 21, of Saratoga Springs, charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sale of marijuana.

u Matthew Heckman, 21, of Saratoga Springs, charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sale of marijuana.

u Richard Brautigam, 22, of Saratoga Springs, charged with one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

u Henry Hester, 32, of San Diego, Calif., the one suspect who did not attend Skidmore, is charged with two counts each of third-degree criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance, as well as seventh-degree criminal possession, according to Veitch.

“He was a Saratoga Springs resident but then moved to California before we could arrest him,” Veitch said. Hester was extradited back to New York.

Skidmore College spokeswoman Andrea Wise said the college has disciplined every student who was arrested.

“Discipline can range from sanctions and community service to suspension or expulsion,” she said.

Wise said she was not permitted to identify which men are current or former students.

“I’m constrained by the federal Education and Privacy Law from identifying students,” she said.

During the investigation, police in Saratoga Springs, Massachusetts and New Hampshire seized more than one ounce of cocaine, more than 29 pounds of marijuana, approximately $50,000 in cash and a small amount of LSD, police said.

“The majority of the marijuana was intercepted and seized out of state prior to reaching the streets of Saratoga Springs,” according to Veitch.

Saratoga Springs Police Chief Ed Moore called the investigation “long and complicated.”

“The many seizures of illegal drugs has removed significant threats from the street, and cash assets seized by the investigators further defeats these criminal enterprises,” he said in a press release. Police said they worked with the Skidmore Campus Safety Department.

Veitch said there was no college group connection between the men like a fraternity or club.

“All of the men are from outside the area previous to attending Skidmore,” he said. “The majority of the [drug transactions] took place off campus.”

Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy said police had received complaints from parents of students who were concerned about drug activities in Saratoga Springs and specifically on campus.

Veitch said the investigation was under way before complaints were received “from at least one parent.”

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