Man Pleads Guilty In Dunkirk Cocaine Trafficking

BUFFALO – Joseph C. Paternostro, 28, Hamburg, faces a mandatory 10 years in prison with a possibility of life and a $10 million fine after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, according to U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr.
Kennedy said Paternostro pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr.
Between July 2016 and May 2, 2017, the defendant regularly purchased cocaine from a source of supply in Dunkirk on a weekly basis for resale to local customers. On February 9, 2017, and February 16, 2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted two undercover purchases of cocaine from Paternostro, Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan A. Tokash, who is handling the case, said.
On November 16, 2017, law enforcement officers surveilled the defendant’s vehicle and conducted a probable cause traffic stop. Officers recovered cocaine from Paternostro’s pocket. Officers also executed a New York State search warrant at the defendant’s residence on Lake Heights in Hamburg. During the search, a quantity of cocaine was seized, as well as a drug scale with cocaine residue, and drug packaging material.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, under the direction of Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Geraci; and the Evans Police Department, under the direction of Chief Douglas Czora.
Sentencing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., October 18, before Judge Geraci.