Cross country drug ring stretched from California to Dansville

ROCHESTER — The seventh and final defendant has been sentenced in a cross country methamphetamine ring that stretched from California to Dansville. 

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced Thursday that Julie Cota, 52, of California, who was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison by U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katelyn M. Hartford, who handled the case, stated that between January 2017 and June 27, 2017, the defendant conspired with others to sell methamphetamine.

In furtherance of the conspiracy, Cota worked together with co-defendant Thomas Williams to ship crystal methamphetamine from California to co-defendant Donald McKinney in Dansville, NY. The defendant, along with Williams, sent approximately four to six pounds of crystal methamphetamine to McKinney in Dansville via Federal Express parcel service, in exchange for money. Cota and Williams sold the crystal methamphetamine for $1,000 an ounce to McKinney, who then distributed the crystal methamphetamine to his own customers in the Dansville area.

Many of the methamphetamine sales took place at The Boneyard, an auto salvage business located in Dansville. Owner Kenneth Hoag was also convicted and forfeited the business as a result of his conviction.

Cota was one of seven defendants convicted and sentenced in this case. Also convicted and sentenced:

· Thomas Williams - sentenced to serve 144 months in prison;

· Donald McKinney - sentenced to serve 120 months in prison;

· Kenneth Hoag - sentenced to serve 12 months and 1 day in prison and forfeiture of The Boneyard;

· Kurt Redance - sentenced to serve 48 months in prison;

· Andrew Culliton - sentenced to serve 36 months in prison; and

· Brandie Schumacher - sentenced to four years probation to include three months home detention.

“Like illicit opioids, methamphetamine destroys lives,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Whether these drugs are on the streets of a large urban city, or in a small rural area, our Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring an end to the scourge and hold accountable those who seek to fill our communities with these dangerous and potentially deadly substances.”

“Illegal drug sales have no borders and through our local, state and federal partners, we too are breaking down our jurisdictional borders to follow those distributing these deadly drugs,” stated Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty. “We will continue to aggressively investigate drug crimes in Livingston County and do our very best to hold drug dealers accountable.”

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Thomas Dougherty; and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Eric Laughton.