Tonawanda News

Local News

February 24, 2010

COURTS: Major players in gang busted last July face long jail terms

Two key players in a drug ring that was broken up by federal and local law enforcement agencies last year have pleaded guilty to felony offenses and face lengthy jail terms when sentenced in the upcoming months.

Keith Simmons, 32, who operated out of an Ironton Street, North Tonawanda address, pleaded guilty Feb. 12 to a felony count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and faces a minimum prison sentence of 20 years.

According to FBI transcripts, Simmons had boasted that he was “untouchable” and would never serve time in jail.

“Simmons stated that his group of lawyers representing him are too strong,” the July 2009 federal complaint said.

Jeremy Hall, 32, of Amherst, faces a minimum 10 years in jail after pleading guilty Jan. 8 to a narcotics conspiracy charge.

Simmons was among a group of 21 people arrested July 30, 2009 on federal drug trafficking warrants. A 22nd person eluded capture but was apprehended in September in Georgia. Hall was arrested in a related case that was part of the same investigation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. McCabe.

Simmons and Hall bring to 13 the number of people who have accepted misdemeanor or felony pleas in the cases.

“They’ve acknowledged responsibility for their actions,” McCabe said of Simmons and Hall. “They pled guilty prior to grand jury indictments.”

Both have agreed to cooperate with the government by providing information regarding their knowledge of any criminal activity relating to the unlawful possession, manufacture, distribution or importation of controlled substances.

Hall faces sentencing at 12:30 p.m. April 15 and Simmons will be sentenced at 12:30 p.m. May 26. U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara will administer the sentencing in both cases.

Among those who have already taken a plea is Joe Kozak of Pioneer Drive in North Tonawanda. Kozak on Feb. 16 pleaded guilty to a federal narcotics conspiracy charge and faces a minimum five years incarceration at his May 21 sentencing.

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