SCHENECTADY -- Federal prosecutors Tuesday offered new details into the alleged synthetic marijuana operation run out of the Stockade Deli, calling a part owner of the deli a leader in the conspiracy.
Prosecutors also called the accused, Rayen Hussein, 41, the father of 4-month-old Rayen Puleski, whose body was found in a grassy area behind a State Street apartment Aug. 9. Hussein's attorney and family disputed that Tuesday.
Hussein was arrested Friday, along with a second man, Abdulqadoos Alomari, 31, after an evening raid on the deli. They are accused of conspiring to distribute synthetic cannabinoids, also referred to as “spice” or “K2,” out of the business, located at 33 State St.
Hussein appeared in Federal Court Tuesday for a detention hearing in the case. After hearing arguments from attorneys, a judge ordered him held on $50,000 bond.
In comments to the judge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emmet O'Hanlon described Hussein as the leader and added "some of the most vulnerable members of society" were his customers, including the homeless.
O'Hanlon also referenced Rayen Puleski's death and called it "part of an ongoing murder investigation by the Schenectady police."
Local authorities have yet to characterize the investigation as a murder, and a prosecutor involved in the investigation repeated that later Tuesday. Christina Tremante-Pelham called it an investigation into a death. Rayen Puleski's cause of death has yet to be determined, she said.
Authorities have said the cause of death determination would take an extended period of time due to the condition of the remains.
Regarding the issue of paternity, Hussein's attorney Kevin Luibrand insisted the infant was not Hussein's child. He has a wife and four children, the defense said.
Schenectady city police have also said Hussein is the father of Rayen Puleski, though they have not elaborated on what connection, if any, Hussein may have to the death investigation.
O'Hanlon said Hussein never disclosed his relationship with Heaven Puleski, or that he fathered a child with her, to his family, and as a result, he would be a flight risk. Hussein "lived a kind of secret life," O'Hanlon said.
Hussein's brother Isaac was working to put up property for Hussein's bond. But the initial property offered, the old Scotia Village Market, was withdrawn when prosecutors argued the "spice" was manufactured and packaged there. The process apparently involved a cement mixer.
With that, Hussein will remain in custody on bail. If he is released, he would be electronically monitored and would have to wear a patch to monitor for controlled substances.
Hussein is a naturalized U.S. citizen and has been since 2012, according to Luibrand. He also has a valid Yemeni passport. Attorneys were trying to determine if that passport was seized in the raid.
Prosecutors provided more details in court about the alleged synthetic marijuana operation, saying customers used it in the park across from the deli. Luibrand disputed that, citing the omission of that allegation in the complaint filed by prosecutors.
Heaven Puleski, 38, is facing charges of evidence tampering and concealment of a human corpse, both felonies, in connection with her son's death. Police found Rayen's body on Aug. 9 in a grassy area behind 766 State St., where his mother had recently lived.
She is accused of intentionally disposing of Rayen’s body to prevent its discovery. She also faces a misdemeanor child endangerment count, accused of using heroin while “being responsible for the care” of Rayen last month, according to police.
The charges don't relate directly to Rayen’s death, the cause of which remains under investigation.
She remains in custody on $20,000 bail.
Our coverage of Rayen Puleski case:
- Feds: Stockade Deli owner arrested on synthetic marijuana charges, Aug. 20, 2018
- Hearing delayed for mother charged in connection with baby's death, Aug. 20, 2018
- Mourners pay respects to baby Rayen Puleski at Schenectady vigil, Aug. 19, 2018
- Heaven Puleski ordered held on $20k bail; charges related to discovery of baby's body, Aug. 15, 2018
- Foss: Few are aware of safe haven laws, Aug. 15, 2018
- Family reacts to mother's arrest connected to Rayen Puleski case, Aug. 15, 2018
- Police: No positive ID yet on remains found in search for baby Rayen Puleski, Aug. 13, 2018
- Foss: Recovery of child's body demands answers, Aug. 11, 2018
- Few details available in missing infant case, autopsy pending, Aug. 10, 2018
- Police: Body 'consistent with that of a child' discovered, Aug. 9, 2018
- Police search Schenectady building for missing infant, Aug. 8, 2018
- Puleski in 2016: Gloversville escapee caught in Schenectady, Oct. 4, 2016