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'Jerseylicious' Star Among 24 Busted for Selling Drugs on SI, DA Says

By Nicholas Rizzi | January 27, 2014 4:19pm | Updated on January 27, 2014 4:33pm
 Prosecutors announced the takedown of a 24 member loosely-affiliated drug ring, which includes a reality-TV star, on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014.
Operation Silent Hill
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STATEN ISLAND — A reality television star was arrested for selling oxycodone pills outside of his home on Staten Island, part of a group of 24 people accused of hawking drugs across the borough for more than a year, District Attorney Dan Donovan announced on Monday.

Corey Epstein, 23, a cast member on the Style Network's show "Jerseylicious" — which follows workers at a hair salon in New Jersey — was arrested for allegedly dealing oxycodone outside his New Springville home, prosecutors said.

He was allegedly part of a group of "loosely-affiliated" dealers that sold crack, cocaine and oxycodone around the borough — including a man who allegedly dealt drugs while refereeing a youth basketball game.

"With no regard for the law-abiding citizens and children they put in danger, these defendants sought to make money dealing illegal drugs," Donovan said in a statement. "My message to drug dealers is clear: No matter what powder or pill you push, whether it be cocaine or oxycodone, the law enforcement community of Staten Island will band together to bring you to justice."

Epstein, who allegedly sold pills three times to undercover police, is married to "Jerseylicious" star Tracy DiMarco, and appears on the show himself.

Prosecutors said that another suspect, Horace Johnson, 59, allegedly sold crack while refereeing a youth sports game in the borough, as well as inside a Home Depot near the Park Hill Houses.

Johnson was officiating a basketball game at the Catholic Youth Organization facility in Port Richmond when he allegedly sold crack to an undercover officer outside the game, prosecutors said.

Johnson's lawyer, Patrick Parotta, said he plead guilty to criminal possession of cocaine in his apartment, but it was for personal use, not for sale.

"When [the police] did enter his house and did do the search warrant, there was a small amount of cocaine by his nightstand in his residence for personal use," Parotta said.

Other suspects in the case include Tonianne Pavone, 24, who was arrested and accused of selling pills to undercover police inside Great Kills Park and near a school, prosecutors said.

Lawyers for Epstein, Pavone, and other defendants did not respond to requests for comments for this story.

Police started the investigation, dubbed "Silent Hill," in October 2012, and arrested 20 of the alleged members last Thursday. Investigators originally focused on dealers selling out of the Todt Hill Houses, but expanded to the 24-member group, prosecutors said.

During the arrests, officers recovered a .22 caliber gun, cocaine, crack, hallucinogenic mushrooms, 2 pounds of pot and approximately $7,000 in cash, prosecutors said.

The 20 suspects who were arrested last week were charged with possession and sale of a controlled substance, authorities said. Two of them pleaded guilty.

Three additional suspects were still being sought as of Monday, and another suspect was scheduled to surrender this week, prosecutors said.