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CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Rhyan O. Stewart, 47, of Niagara Falls, NY, who was convicted of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and being a felon in possession of a weapon, was sentenced to serve 135 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Misha A. Coulson, who handled the case, stated that in December 2016, co-conspirator John L. Maye arranged for the delivery of a U.S. Postal Service parcel to a residence on North Avenue in Niagara Falls, NY. The parcel contained a quantity of cocaine from a California source of supply that Maye intended to distribute in the Niagara Falls and Buffalo areas. Defendant Stewart and Maye offered to pay another individual to take delivery and safeguard the parcel.

Unbeknownst to Stewart, Maye, and the third individual, the parcel was intercepted by the U.S. Postal Service and was searched prior to its delivery. Five separately wrapped kilogram-sized bricks of cocaine were discovered inside. Sham material was substituted for the cocaine and controlled delivery of the package was conducted on December 27, 2016, at the North Avenue residence.

As instructed by Stewart, the third individual received the package, signed for it, and brought it inside the residence. During the delivery, Stewart and Maye conducted counter-surveillance, and observing the presence of law enforcement, the two instructed the individual to leave the residence without the package. The individual left the residence, and the parcel containing the sham material was recovered from within the residence shortly thereafter. Subsequently, on October 13, 2017, the Niagara Falls Police Department received a citizen complaint alleging that Stewart had stored a quantity of controlled substances in the basement of his residence on LaSalle Avenue in Niagara Falls. During a search of the residence, officers recovered two firearms, including one that was reported stolen, and a quantity of cocaine.  Stewart was previously convicted on three different occasions in Niagara County Court and is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.

John Maye was previously convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Superintendent Thomas Licata; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Division; the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division.

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