Third suspect takes deal in Schenectady drug case
SCHENECTADY All three defendants charged in an unusual Schenectady drug case that involved one of the trio eventually turning over a shipment of drugs to police have now pleaded guilty to related crimes.
The last defendant accepted a plea deal Friday that includes up to two years in state prison for her role in the case. Her husband is to get up to four years, while her brother was sentenced Friday to time already served in jail.
The sentences reflect each of the defendants’ lack of a criminal history, prosecutor William Sanderson said.
“It appears, from what I can tell, that they were in way over their heads,” Sanderson said. “They had an opportunity to make $1,000 to be a go-between and they couldn’t resist it.”
The case relates to events that unfolded between Sept. 12 and 14 in Schenectady and nearby areas. Authorities gave the following account:
Carmen Rivera-Diaz and her husband Bievienido Santos arranged for a shipment of cocaine to be mailed to Schenectady from either Florida or Puerto Rico.
The drugs were shipped to the residence of Gabriel Rivera-Baez on Linden Street. He is the brother of Rivera-Diaz.
Rivera-Baez was accused of knowing about the shipment and participating in the plan. But when he received the box, he didn’t turn it over to the other two as he was supposed to. He instead took off with the drugs tucked inside a child’s lunch box.
As Santos and Rivera-Diaz were calling to get the drugs, Rivera-Baez was hiding out in hotels in Schenectady and then in Cobleskill. Then another friend called him, relaying information that supposed hit men were on their way to Schenectady to find him and the drugs.
At that point, Rivera-Baez went to Schenectady police to hand over the drugs with the story that he had innocently possessed them. He said he didn’t immediately realize what it was and when he finally did, he was afraid.
As city police investigated, they discounted Rivera-Baez’s claim of innocence, and eventually arrested him, his sister and her husband.
Rivera-Baez pleaded guilty earlier to third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced Friday to time served, about three months.
The other two defendants pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, Rivera-Diaz on Friday and Santos previously. Santos is to receive up to four years in state prison, Rivera-Diaz up to two years.
Rivera-Baez and Rivera-Diaz appeared Friday before acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino, who will sentence Santos in June.