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NJ man sentenced to 14 years for cocaine trafficking in NY

Richard “Richie” Sinde, a 59-year-old resident of Fort Lee, New Jersey, has been sentenced to 168 months (14 years) in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release for his role in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the sentence. Sinde, along with Jeffrey Civitello Sr. and Jeffrey C. Civitello Jr. of Schenectady, New York, were convicted on all counts after an 8-day trial in April 2023.

Sinde, with a criminal history that includes federal convictions for heroin trafficking and unauthorized use of stolen credit cards, as well as state convictions for arson, enterprise corruption, conspiracy, and criminal tax fraud, was part of a conspiracy involving three other men, Christopher J. Kelly of Brooklyn, New York, and Robert J. Ingrao of Lodi, New Jersey.

The evidence presented at trial revealed a complex operation where Sinde and his associates trafficked approximately 15 kilograms of cocaine in March and April 2021. The conspiracy included delivering cocaine to Civitello Sr. in Schenectady and using a Jeep with a sophisticated hidden compartment for transporting the drugs.

The DEA had previously installed a court-authorized tracker on the vehicle as part of an investigation. The arrest was facilitated by a New York State Police Trooper who, at the DEA’s request, conducted a stop on Ingrao in Greene County, leading to the discovery of 9 kilograms of cocaine in the hidden compartment of the vehicle. Other members of the conspiracy have also been sentenced: Civitello Sr. received a 10-year prison sentence, Kelly 41 months with a $25,000 fine, and Ingrao 37 months. Civitello Jr. is scheduled for sentencing in March 2024.

This case was a result of an extensive investigation by the DEA’s Capital District Drug Enforcement Task Force, involving multiple state and local law enforcement agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Barnett and Dustin C. Segovia prosecuted the case.