Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III announced that 35 year-old Ebony Smith of 38 Suffolk Street in the City of Buffalo pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree (Class “B” felonies) and two counts of Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia before State Supreme Court Judge Christopher Burns. Ms. Smith’s guilty plea occurred during the midst of her trial upon these charges. She was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The trial testimony established that Smith, a mother of two and a certified nursing assistant, allowed her boyfriend, 29 year old Raysean Goss, a violent felon recently released to parole, to live with her and her two young children. Ms. Smith knew that Mr. Goss was a violent felon on parole and also knew he was making and selling crack cocaine from her apartment. Mr. Goss’ prior felony conviction was in connection with the 2005 gunpoint robbery of a convenience store clerk.
On May 15, 2013, New York State parole officers and Buffalo Police Department Strike Force Unit officers conducted an unannounced home visit and search of the Smith residence. A large plate with crack cocaine, plastic baggies and a razor blade was found in the linen closet. Scales, pyrex containers and various other paraphernalia used to make and cut cocaine for sale were found in a bedroom closet and in the kitchen.
Neither Mr. Goss nor Ms. Smith would admit possession of the crack cocaine and narcotics paraphernalia. They were both indicted by an Erie County Grand Jury in July of 2013. Mr. Goss eventually pleaded guilty as charged while Ms. Smith claimed (at least initially) she had no idea Goss was making and selling drugs from her home and, had she known the same, would never have let Mr. Goss live with her.
The presiding judge repeatedly urged the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss the charges. The prosecution steadfastly refused and maintained the proof was compelling that Ms. Smith knowingly possessed narcotics and knowingly permitted Mr. Goss to sell narcotics from her home.
At trial, Ms. Smith initially intended to take the witness stand after the People rested. Ms. Smith apparently changed her mind when she became aware of the prosecutor’s intent to cross-examine her about recorded telephone conversations between she and Mr. Goss. In one telephone conversation, for example, Ms. Smith reminisced about how Mr. Goss bought her fine jewelry and shoes with the profits of his their narcotics sales. Ms. Smith also noted that she knew Mr. Goss was a drug dealer before she allowed him to move in with her and her young children.
Ms. Smith was allowed to remain free on bail but faces up to 9 years in prison when she is sentenced on September 3, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. Goss faces up to 15 years in prison, and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 26, 2014 at 9:30am.
The case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Sara N. Ogden. District Attorney Sedita stated: “Despite the claims to the contrary, the Office of the District Attorney aggressively prosecutes criminals each and every day. In this case, ADA Ogden was especially steadfast in her efforts to bring both defendants to justice.”