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Police & Fire

Popular Area Pizza Parlor Linked To Major Meth, Cocaine Ring, State Attorney General Says

TJ's Pizza in Poughkeepsie.
TJ's Pizza in Poughkeepsie. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

A popular area pizza shop has been linked to a major methamphetamine and cocaine ring, according to Attorney General Letitia James.

New York State Police announced a 168-count indictment charging nine people for their alleged roles in a cocaine and methamphetamine smuggling operation on Monday, Nov. 15.

In total, police say more than four pounds of cocaine, one pound of methamphetamine pills, three loaded handguns and two high-capacity ammunition feeding devices were seized during the investigation, named “Operation Final Cut.”

“We will continue to go after any individual who tries to profit off of the sale of illegal drugs,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Not only did these individuals bring dangerous drugs into our communities, but they put their children and families in harm’s way by using their businesses as storefronts for this operation. I thank the New York State Police for their partnership in this investigation and continued work to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.”

The nine individuals charged in the indictment include:

  • Vincenzo Dalia, 25, of Poughkeepsie
  • Kareem Devaughn, 39, of the Bronx
  • Matthew Haddad, 33, of Poughkeepsie
  • Tony Jarrett, 35, of Poughkeepsie
  • Scott Mittelstaedt, 47, of Coconut Creek, Florida
  • Christian Myers, 28, of Poughkeepsie
  • Rishad Thomas, 40, of Poughkeepsie
  • Sean Willingham, 37, of the Bronx
  • Jamal Wimbus, 35, of the Bronx

The year-long investigation, which was started in August 2018, comprised hundreds of hours of physical surveillance, wiretapping, covert cameras, and undercover operations, police say. The suspects were frequently heard using coded and “cryptic” terminology in an attempt to conceal the illegal trafficking. Orders of cocaine were often referred to as “cuts” and “white girl,” police say.

Operation Final Cut determined that dealers and traffickers were involved from areas throughout Dutchess County, Bronx County, and the State of Florida, according to police. The Dutchess County portion of the case allegedly centered around several businesses in Poughkeepsie, including a pizzeria, café and a barbershop.

The charges in the indictment include numerous Class A, B and D Felony counts of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance, as well as conspiracy to commit those crimes.

The indictment, unsealed before Dutchess County Court Judge Edward McLoughlin, further alleges that cocaine was supplied to Jarrett for resale by Dalia and others to customers throughout Dutchess County. Dalia additionally purchased quantities of what he believed to be Adderall but was in fact methamphetamine from Florida for resale, police say.

Dalia also purchased quantities of what he believed to be ecstasy but was again methamphetamine from Haddad for resale, according to police. Haddad allegedly obtained the pills from his supplier, Myers, and brought them to Dalia at Dalia’s family owned Poughkeepsie pizzeria, TJ's Pizza on Main Street, for customers’ resale. In at least one instance, Haddad allegedly brought his child to a meeting to exchange pills for money.

“Each day our members see the harmful effects drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine have on individuals, families and our neighborhoods,” said New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “I applaud the hard work and cooperation between our state, federal, and local law enforcement and another successful investigation that resulted in the dismantling of this illegal drug and weapons trafficking operation.

"Together, we will continue to aggressively target and pursue criminals who bring dangerous drugs and weapons into our communities, threaten the safety and security of our neighborhoods, and profit at the expense of our citizens."

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