DA Vance: Ringleaders in Cocaine, Prescription Pills, and Financial Fraud Case Sentenced to State Prison


February 24, 2015

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of THOMAS LUCKEY, 39, to 12 years in state prison for orchestrating a wide range of criminal activities, including a powder and crack cocaine operation, a prescription pill operation, and related financial fraud. On January 7, 2015, LUCKEY pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Conspiracy in the Second and Fourth Degrees, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. 

On December 22, 2014, co-defendant CARLTON CARTER, 31, was sentenced to 3 ½-to-10 ½ years in state prison following his plea to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree for coordinating the financial fraud aspects of the criminal activities. Co-defendants ANDRE LEBRON, 39, and HAROLD SMITH, 40, also pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree for their roles in the financial schemes. On January 20, 2015, LEBRON was sentenced to 3-to-9 years in state prison; SMITH is expected to be sentenced on March 17, 2015. Thirty-four defendants have pleaded guilty so far.

“Street crime and cybercrime are increasingly connected, as illustrated by these moneymaking schemes that ranged from forged oxycodone prescriptions to cocaine sales to counterfeit check operations,” said District Attorney Vance. “Today, more than a quarter of all of the felony cases filed by my Office has an element of larceny, identity theft or cybercrime. My Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau is well-equipped to investigate and prosecute these complex cyber cases – which, in turn, bolster our street crime prosecutions. I would like to thank the NYPD for their work on this collaborative investigation, as well as my Office’s prosecutors for seeing that justice was done.” 

This case originated as an investigation into street-level cocaine sellers, and later the suppliers, by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit and the New York City Police Department’s Narcotics Borough Manhattan North. Investigators then uncovered a prescription pill ring, as well as identity theft and counterfeit check schemes, which were investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau and the NYPD’s Financial Crimes Task Force. 

Cocaine and Prescription Pills

According to the defendants’ guilty pleas, court documents, and statements made on the record in court, from February 2013 to May 2014, LUCKEY worked with co-conspirators to obtain, package, transport, and sell powder cocaine and crack cocaine. The defendants sold these drugs to an undercover police detective in Harlem, often near West 143rd Street and 8th Avenue. 

Beginning around July 29, 2013, the investigation revealed that LUCKEY, working with co-conspirators, also operated an oxycodone pill ring. Using stolen personal identifying information of identity theft victims, including names and birth dates, co-conspirators filled out stolen or forged prescriptions for oxycodone. LUCKEY recruited and paid individuals to bring the stolen and forged prescriptions to pharmacies throughout New York State, targeting those where defendants could fill prescriptions without detection, or with the complicity of pharmacy employees, and then to sell the oxycodone pills on the street. 

Financial Fraud

According to the defendants’ guilty pleas, LUCKEY, working closely with CARTER, also orchestrated in an identity theft and counterfeit check operation that was discovered during the narcotics investigation. From approximately August 2013 to April 2014, the defendants used the identities of 40 individuals and businesses to steal more than $80,000 from banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Citibank, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank.

Over the course of the schemes, a co-conspirator working at a check-cashing store provided CARTER with account information from legitimate checks, including checks linked to accounts held by small businesses, churches, and charitable organizations. CARTER then shared stolen information, including names, account numbers, birth dates, and addresses, with SMITH, who manufactured counterfeit checks, and LEBRON, who created false identification cards. 

LUCKEY then recruited individuals to go inside banks with the forged IDs, deposit the counterfeit checks, and withdraw cash. Members of the scheme deposited checks into either the bank accounts of victims whose identities they had stolen, or the bank accounts of individuals who allowed their accounts to be used for these illegal purposes. Defendants used the forged IDs to withdraw cash from their identity theft victims’ accounts, or to cash the counterfeit checks at bank teller windows. During many of these fraudulent bank transactions, the defendants wore disguises to pose as their victims.

Detectives executing search warrants recovered forged IDs at CARLTON’s residence; credit card skimmers and ID manufacturing devices at LEBRON’s residence; and check forgery equipment at SMITH’s residence. 

Acknowledgements 

Assistant District Attorney Lucy Cutolo is handling the prosecution of the narcotics cases under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Ryan, Chief of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, and Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. 

Assistant District Attorneys Elise Roecker and James Vinocur are handling the prosecution of the financial fraud cases under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Glickman, Deputy Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Brenda Fischer, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Investigative Analyst Michelle Hershkowitz assisted with the investigation. 

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD, particularly the Organized Crime Control Bureau and the Financial Crimes Task Force. District Attorney Vance also thanked the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Hackensack Police Department, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank for their assistance in the investigation.

Defendant Information:

THOMAS LUCKEY, a/k/a “Lucky,” a/k/a “Luck,” D.O.B. 6/19/1975
New York, NY

Convicted: 
•    Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

Sentenced: 
•    12 years in state prison

CARLTON CARTER, a/k/a “Pop” a/k/a “Paper Ova,” D.O.B. 10/29/1983
Hacksensack, NJ

Convicted:
•    Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count

Sentenced: 
•    3 ½-to-10 ½ years in state prison
 
ANDRE LEBRON, D.O.B. 1/15/1976
Bronx, NY

Convicted:
•    Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count

Sentenced:
•    3-to-9 years in state prison

HAROLD SMITH, D.O.B. 3/15/1974 
Bronx, NY

Convicted:
•    Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count