FBI agent's affidavit reveals some details of alleged meth ring investigation
Submitted by Howard Owens on July 10, 2010 - 10:28pm
Note: Reminder, innocent until proven guilty. While we use "allegedly" throughout this report, the nature of recounting the events as alleged by the FBI could leave an impression that the events occurred exactly as reported. That has not yet been proven in court.
For a little over two months, Donald G. Vanelli was a man being closely watched by the FBI.
Agents obtained a court order authorizing a wiretap on his phone on April 22. The FBI mounted a camera on a pole near his home at 8394 Lake Street Road., Le Roy, allowing them to observe who was coming and who was going, and all the trips Vanelli made to his white-washed, two-door garage, where he allegedly stored the methamphetamine he was selling.
By May 7, agents even had two confidential sources allegedly buying -- with federal dollars -- at least one, and sometimes four, "eight-balls" of meth on each visit to the house of the 47-year-old president of the Road Agents Motorcycle Club.
An eight-ball is approximately 1/8 of an ounce of meth.
The details of the surveillance and investigation into the alleged drug-dealing activities of Vanelli are contained in a 99-page affidavit written by FBI agent Mark R. Schirching.
The affidavit, unsealed at the time of Vanelli's arrest, was the basis for warrants for David H. Cohen, 49, of 918 Goodman St., Rochester; Andrew W. Chapman, 40, of 5 Cedar St., Batavia; and Kerry A. Ball, 51, of 7202 Meadville Road, Basom, as well as search warrants for the homes of Vanelli and Donna L. Boon (aka Donna Mcauly), 44, of 3658 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road, Batavia.
All five suspects were arrested early Friday morning and arraigned in the U.S. District Court in Rochester on a federal charge of conspiracy with intent to distribute narcotics.
Vanelli is reportedly being held without bail, while the other four suspects were released on their own recognizance.
While Vanelli was the central figure in the investigation, and described by one investigator Friday as the center of the ring, Vanelli was not the person dealing with the higher level suppliers.
That job allegedly fell to Boon initially, but when Boon could either no longer allegedly supply Vanelli, or when Boon and Vanelli had some sort of falling out, Vanelli reportedly turned to Cohen, who had a contact -- a man who comes across in the affidavit as unreliable and arrogant -- named Igor. Cohen tagged Igor "The King," according to the affidavit, but the nickname doesn't have the ring of a compliment.
Igor's unreliability leaves the impression that he was buying from another source, not he himself manufacturing meth. It's also unclear from the affidavit whether Vanelli's other alleged supplier, Boon, was allegedly buying from a meth lab or dealt with another middle man.
There's no indication one way or another whether Boon or Cohen were themselves subject to a separate surveillance effort.
It's important to note that the affidavit itself is not the whole of the federal case against the suspects, only that portion which has been made publicly available.
The surveillance reveals an alleged attempt by the suspects to be coy about their activities, never discussing deals directly but using -- in the repeated phrase of agent Schirching -- "cryptic and coded" language to arrange meetings and alleged buys.
The alleged "cryptic and coded" language, in it's simplest explanation, usually involved an alleged customer calling Vanelli and asking if it was OK to stop by. If Vanelli had an alleged supply of meth, he would reportedly say, "yes," if not, "no," or perhaps, "it's pretty quiet."
In one conversation, Vanelli reportedly even joked about the Feds listening in.
The key break in the case came when agents asked a State Trooper to make a traffic stop on two people who had been observed -- via the pole camera -- leaving Vanelli's residence.
The alleged buy that led to the traffic stop came on May 7. It was the second time the man and woman were reportedly heard via wiretap making arrangements to meet Vanelli and later showing up at his residence, disappearing with Vanelli into the garage and leaving 10 minutes or so later.
The first alleged buy came on April 29, when a woman, identified as CS-1, allegedly called Vanelli at 4:14 p.m. She asked, "Are you going to be around later on? You want some company or?" Vanelli reportedly responded, "Yeah, sure."
The pole camera recorded the woman arriving at Vanelli's house with a man who would become the second confidential source.
They arrived at 5:19 p.m. and entered the garage with Vanelli and departed at 5:29 p.m.
The couple would later admit to buying methamphetamine from Vanelli. The pair reportedly confirmed the use of "cryptic and coded" language to arrange deals.
At 12:46 p.m., May 7, Vanelli reportedly received a phone call from CS-1, who said, "Yeah, I was wondering if you wanted some company later?" Vanelli reportedly responded, "Yeah, what time?"
CS-1 reportedly said, "Ah, well, I could ... I just gotta .... I get out probably about 3:30, quarter-to-four, and then, ah, run home, grab some money and, ah, head over. So 4:30?" Vanelli reportedly responded, "Sounds good ... OK, I'll see you then."
Schirching reports that via the pole camera, CS-1 and CS-2 were shown arriving at 4:35 p.m. and entering the garage with Vanelli. They departed at 4:43 p.m.
At 5:05 p.m., under the direction of FBI agents, NYSP Trooper Christopher Neidert stopped the soon-to-be-informant's car on Randall Road.
Neidert reportedly smelled a strong odor of marijuana when he approached the driver's side door of the car. Neidert reportedly recovered a small amount of marijuana and a pipe from CS-1's purse.
When CS-2 exited the vehicle, Neidert reportedly observed a yellow envelope sticking out under his arm, which was in a sling.
"Trooper Neidert then asked CS-2 what was in the envelope and CS-2 admitted that it contained four eight-balls of methamphetamine," Schirching writes.
Later that evening, CS-1 and CS-2 agreed to cooperate in the investigation. They admitted to buying four eight-balls of meth, allegedly from Vanelli, for $1,200.
The description of the buying process for CS-1 fits the pattern of other alleged buys -- from the non-specific phone conversations, to people arriving a short time later, going into the garage, allegedly with Vanelli, and leaving minutes later.
The affidavit lists more than a dozen alleged customers of Vanelli. They are generally identified as Customer 1, Customer 2, and so on, as well as listing the phone numbers used in calling Vanelli.
CS-1 and CS-2 would be used to make controlled purchases -- wired for video and audio each time, using federal money -- on May 14, June 11 and June 25.
The Feds also intercepted calls to and from Vanelli involving Boon, Cohen, Chapman and Ball. Schirching states that he believes these phone calls were made in order to arrange either the transfer of money or meth among the five alleged dealers.
On May 24, Vanelli reportedly received a call from Ball. It's the first time Vanelli turns down a meeting with an alleged associate or customer. Schirching took this to mean that Vanelli was tapped out of meth.
The next several pages of the affidavit detail a number of calls in which Vanelli is allegedly unable to supply his customers and having difficulty obtaining a new supply of meth.
He repeatedly told customers, according to the report, that he might have time to meet the following week.
On May 25, Vanelli reportedly received a call from Cohen.
"I guess I am gonna have to go to your schedule. Tell -- tell me a time to show up there after 3:30 and I will be there. I don't care if it's midnight or whatever I just got appointments and all this shit 'til then."
Vanelli reportedly replied, "Yeah, nah, I don't know if I'm going to be around."
Cohen: "Ah, .... all right so, f--k it today. When -- when, next week, stop by or?"
Vanelli: "Next week I think."
Later that day, Customer 4 reportedly called Vanelli, who said, "Well, I just wanted to run into ya for about 15, 20 minutes. I know you're busy. I know you're tryin' to get your shit together, but I gotta stay home by myself so I might as well do somethin', I might as well clean."
Vanelli reportedly responded, "Yeah. I can't help you though, I don't got... "
Customer 4, "No."
Vanelli: "No, next week."
Customer 4: "This sucks."
Vanelli: "Yes it does. Yes it does. Never when I need it, you know."
On May 27, at 6:11 p.m., CS-1, at the direction of the FBI, reportedly called Vanelli, but Vanelli declined to set up a meeting and said he would call CS-1 the following week.
Cohen isn't recorded calling Vanelli until June 1, when he says, "I called, I just haven't had the chance to go f--king take off to see if they got the shit."
Cohen later added, according to Schirching, "Whatever, but I will try to do the best I can and I will call you if I can't, because I got a call into about three different places."
Schirching interpreted this conversation to mean that Vanelli was unable to obtain meth from Boon and Cohen was trying to find another supplier.
Later that day, Cohen reportedly told Vanelli, "I don't know man, later on. I got, I got, I mean, I, I got, I'm not a shining star, but I guess I could help you better than nothing if you could bring like a buck, buck-fifty, something like that."
Vanelli and Cohen reportedly agreed to meet later that night. Later, they allegedly set up a meeting near Irondeqouit Bay, across from Bazil's Restaurant in Webster.
At 8:30 p.m., Vanelli was alleged observed entering a gated boat-repair facility (entering a code to get in) and leaving about 9 p.m.
Schirching concluded, he writes, that Vanelli was able to obtain a small amount of meth from Cohen, but not enough to service his customers.
CS-1 attempted to set up a buy on June 2, but Vanelli allegedly declined a meeting.
At 1:1 p.m., June 3, Vanelli reportedly received a phone call from Cohen in which Cohen says, "I don't, I don't mind taking a drive man just cause, ah, like actually that motherf--cking Igor got an attitude on me ... I call him last night he said, 'I can't make it' and ah, it's cool man, I'll catch ya, you know, Thursday or whatever today is ... yeah, and I call him, hey, so 'well I'm working,' so I didn't know how things are going out there?"
Vanelli: "Pretty quiet."
Cohen: "Yeah, all right. Well, whatever, give me a holler cause I, I, I mean it comes down to it, I'd rather spend more time and have ya know, professionalism than, than, than f--cking, these f--cking guys are a joke, man."
Schirching writes that he believes Cohen was indicating that he was having difficulty acquiring meth from Igor and that Vanelli indicated he had not yet found a supply of meth.
On June 4, Cohen reportedly speaks with Vanelli and says, "I would have to see when it would be convenient for the king ... being Igor, Igor being the king."
Vanelli reportedly said, "Yeah, I called him and left him a message. He didn't, he didn't return my call yet."
Cohen: "You know, that's f--cked up. You know, it's like, whatever. He, he, he's the king, you know cause ... I'll do my best when I see him, but he doesn't return my calls either."
It isn't until June 11 that Schirching believes Vanelli was able to drive to the boat-repair yard at Irondequoit Bay and obtain a supply of meth from Cohen.
Later that day, Vanelli reportedly called Boon. At this point, it had been a couple of weeks, based on the transcripts in the affidavit, since Boon and Vanelli spoke.
Schirching believes this conversation was intended to set up a meeting at Vanelli's house where Vanelli could hand over a quanity of meth to Boon and discuss business.
On June 11, Vanelli reportedly contacted four of his alleged customers, including CS-1. CS-1 allegedly arranged a meeting with Vanelli where she reportedly purchased -- according to a taped transaction -- three eight-balls for $760 (because CS-1 apparently didn't have the correct denominations to pay the reported asking price of $775).
By June 14, Vanelli was reportedly running low on meth again and arranged another meeting with Cohen. When Customer 15 called, Vanelli indicted, according to the affidivate, that he couldn't meet immediately with the alleged customer, but perhaps later. Customer 15 reportedly responded, "As long as you give me a Scoobie."
Schirching believes that Vanelli obtained some quantity of meth on June 14 during a meeting at a Thruway gas station with Cohen, and later supplied Ball. Further, Schirching believes that Vanelli later arranged a second meeting at his residence with Cohen for the next day in order to procure additional supplies. Schirching states that he doesn't believe Vanelli obtained a large supply from Cohen.
On June 17, Cohen and Vanelli are allegedly hoping for more meth from Cohen's supplier, but the supplier reportedly showed up to a meeting with Cohen empty-handed.
Cohen and Vanelli reportedly talk twice on June 18, and in the second conversation, Cohen reportedly says, "you know, I can't hurry the king."
By June 22, neither Cohen nor Vanelli have allegedly found a supply of meth, and Cohen bemoans the apparent disappearance of Igor. He hadn't heard a word from him.
At 3:41 p.m., Vanelli reportedly receives a call from his girlfriend.
Vanelli reportedly says, "Fat ass [Donna Boon] called me this morning."
Vanelli reportedly says he didn't talk with her.
Girlfriend: "Are you going to call her?"
Vanelli: "F--k no."
Later he reportedly said, "I ain't got nothin' to say to her [unintelligible] no more. Make sure you tell her."
The next day, however, Vanelli does reportedly call Boon.
Boon: "I, um, what did I want last night, oh geez, I don't know, oh my friggin', I, can you stop by today and check my lawn mower? This mornin'?"
Vanelli reportedly departed his house at 11:19 p.m. Sheriff's investigator Pete Welker reportedly spotted Vanelli's truck at Boon's place at 11:57 a.m. and he reportedly returned home at 12:25 p.m.
Four minutes later, Vanelli reportedly made his first outbound call to an alleged customer, Customer 9, and set up a meeting at Vanelli's house.
Immediately after that call, Vanelli reportedly called Ball and set up a meeting.
Ten minutes later, Vanelli's girlfriend called.
Girlfriend: "You went back on your word, your word, huh?"
Vanelli: "What are you doing?"
Girlfriend: "Just got to her house ... thought you weren't coming here."
Vanelli: "What, you want to talk about it on the phone?"
Later in the conversation, Vanelli's girlfriend reportedly says, "I knew you were talking shit."
That phone call terminated abruptly, but the girlfriend reportedly calls back a minute or two later.
Girlfriend: "I just wanted to, you just went back on what you said, that's all."
Vanelli: "You know what? I'm not going to talk about this on the phone."
At 4:05 p.m., the girlfriend reportedly calls Vanelli again and launches into, "you motherf--ked her yesterday ... f--kin' f--k that fat bitch. I don't f--king need her, but you do."
Vanelli: "How many times have I heard you say that?"
Girlfriend: "But you do need her."
On June 25, Schirching, working with investigators from the Sheriff's Office, set up CS-1 for another alleged buy from Vanelli.
On June 26, Cohen allegedly arranges for his girlfriend, Nancy, to drive to Le Roy to pick up a supply of meth from Vanelli.
The affidavit ends with Schirching stating that he believes he has probable cause to arrest Vanelli, Boon, Cohen, Ball and Chapman.
Top photo, the residence at 8394 Lake Street Road, Le Roy.
Insets, from top, Vanelli, Cohen, Boon.