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22 Busted for $15 Million Marijuana, Oxycodone Ring in Manhattan: Records

By  William Mathis and Ben Fractenberg | July 19, 2016 7:40pm 

 22 people were charged in a $15 million marijuana ring that brought the drug in from California to New York.
22 people were charged in a $15 million marijuana ring that brought the drug in from California to New York.
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Shutterstock/Doug Shutter

CIVIC CENTER — More than 20 people were charged with running a $15 million drug trafficking ring that brought 350 pounds of marijuana from California to New York each month for nearly two years, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Crew members — which included distributor Frank Parisi, 60, who worked at the family owned Parisi Bakery on Elizabeth Street in Little Italy, where more than 10 pounds of pot were found in an upstairs apartment during the execution of a search warrant — were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday on trafficking, illegal gambling and tax fraud charges, according to prosecutors and Parisi's bondsman.

The ring had brought in at least $15 million in marijuana grown in California between February 2014 and November 2015, according to officials. 

“Whether the alleged offer was marijuana, pills, or a return on bets placed through an unlawful gambling operation, the defendants developed a comprehensive system of monetizing illicit activities and trade,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said.

“In this case, the alleged schemes generated millions of dollars in illegal revenue for the defendants, virtually none of which was reported, and likely all of which went straight into the defendants’ pockets."

Ringleaders John Kelly, 52, and Richard Sinde, 51, coordinated the shipment of the marijuana, which was often sent through the mail or loaded into vans that carried up to 150 pounds of the drug at a time, prosecutors said. 

Crew members Stephen Gallo, 64, John Gillette, 31, and Christopher Alvino, 72, also sold hundreds of prescription pills including oxycodone for at least $18,000, according to officials. They sold drugs to undercover detectives on at least two occasions. 

The crew wasn't just involved with drug distribution, prosecutors said. Several of the members, including Parisi and Frank Galesi, 50, managed an illegal gambling website, which generated more than $1 million. 

And several of the defendants were also charged with tax fraud for failing to submit tax returns for their illegal income, according to officials. 

Parisi's attorney, Jeremy Schneider, said during his client's arraignment that he worked at the bakery "every day, every hour, every week."  

Someone with the same name as Parisi was also arrested in 2003 when police found 75 pounds of marijuana in the Parisi Bakery's Elizabeth Street location, the New York Post reported

Parisi's attorney could not be reached for additional comment about the 2003 arrest.

No one could be reached for comment at the Mott Street location of Parisi's bakery Tuesday evening.

Information on attorneys for each of the other 21 defendants was not immediately available.