New York, NY - April 24, 2018 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the 10-year state prison sentence of Antwan Lockhart, who supplied drugs to a trafficking ring that distributed cocaine and heroin throughout Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, St. Lawrence, and Cortland Counties. The defendant was charged as part of “Operation Bricktown,” an investigation spearheaded by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) as part of his Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic (“S.U.R.G.E.”) Initiative – a crackdown on New York’s widening heroin, opioid, and narcotics distribution networks.
All 52 individuals charged in Operation Bricktown have now entered guilty pleas, including dozens of members of Syracuse’s violent Bricktown street gang. In total, the 52 defendants were charged in Operation Bricktown with 370 crimes, including narcotics sales and murder conspiracies.
“As the opioid and heroin crisis continues to devastate communities across New York, my office and our partners in law enforcement will continue to work together to bring relief and justice to those impacted,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This sentencing should send a clear message: those who pump deadly drugs into our neighborhoods will be caught and will face the consequences.”
The Attorney General's investigation found that the trafficking ring distributed cocaine and heroin throughout multiple counties throughout upstate New York. During the execution of a search warrant at an apartment rented by Lockhart, investigators recovered nearly two kilograms of cocaine, along with cocaine presses and other narcotics paraphernalia.
In 2008, Lockhart was convicted of cocaine possession as a result of a wiretap investigation conducted by the Attorney General's OCTF. On Friday, Lockhart was sentenced by the Hon. Thomas J. Miller in Onondaga County Court to ten years in prison for his guilty plea to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, a Class A Felony. As part of the sentence, he must also serve five years of post-release parole supervision.
Since it launched in April 2017, the Attorney General’s SURGE Initiative has taken down nine major drug trafficking rings across New York – resulting in 302 traffickers taken off the streets.
In addition to prosecuting major drug trafficking rings, Attorney General Schneiderman’s multi-levered strategy to tackle New York’s evolving opioid epidemic includes:
- Obtaining settlements with major national and global health insurers including Cigna and Anthem, which insure over 4 million New Yorkers, to remove barriers to life-saving treatment for opioid use disorder. The agreements put an end to the insurers’ policy of requiring prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment (“MAT”), which can lead to significant delays for patients seeking relief from addiction.
- Creating the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (“I-STOP), a series of enhancements to New York’s prescription drug monitoring program that provide doctors with patient’s up-to-date controlled substance prescription history and established a safe disposal program providing a place for New Yorkers to get rid of expired and unneeded drugs—thus reducing the likelihood of stolen and forged prescriptions being used to obtain controlled substances from pharmacies. I-STOP reduced “doctor shopping,” a practice in which an individual attempts to obtain the same or similar prescriptions from multiple physicians, by 90% since 2014.
- Launching the Community Overdose Prevention (“COP”) program, a life-saving initiative that enabled state and local law-enforcement officers in the state of New York to carry naloxone, the extremely effective heroin antidote that can immediately reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Since the program’s implementation in April 2014, more than 100 overdoses were reversed using kits provided by the COP program, which distributed over 27,000 kits across the state.
- Obtaining an agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to cut and cap the price of naloxone for all agencies in New York State, reducing the price of naloxone by nearly 20 percent.
- Enforcing Mental Health Parity Laws to reach agreements with six health insurance companies, requiring them to implement sweeping reforms in their administration of behavioral health benefits, in particular relating to medical management practices, coverage of residential treatment for substance abuse, and co-pays for outpatient treatment, and to submit regular compliance reports. The agreements ultimately provided millions of dollars in penalties and over $2 million in restitution for members whose claims for were improperly denied.
- Successfully prosecuting more than ten licensed prescribers including operators of “pill mills” and other unlawful practices for crimes related to improper opioid prescriptions.
- Urging health insurance companies to review their coverage and payment policies that contribute to the opioid epidemic, as well as sending letters to the country’s three largest pharmacy benefit managers requesting documents, data, and other information regarding how they are addressing the opioid crisis.
The Attorney General would like to thank the Syracuse Police Department for their partnership in this investigation.
The investigation was conducted by OCTF Investigator Tim MacConaghy under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Thomas M. Wolf and Deputy Chief Eugene Black, in conjunction with Syracuse Police Gang Violence Task Force Detective Mamoun Abraham, under the supervision of Sergeant David Procopio, Captain Richard Trudell, and Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler. The Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.
The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Ciereck, under the supervision of Upstate OCTF Deputy Chief Maria Moran. Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff leads OCTF. Margaret Garnett is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Prosecutions.