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INTERNET DRUG RING SMASHED, SAYS SPITZER

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on Wednesday announced the break-up of a worldwide drug trafficking ring that was using Internet Web sites to peddle narcotics and other controlled substances since early last year.

Spitzer said his office's months-long investigation that began in Buffalo has already led to the arrests of seven men and the corporate guilty plea of an Orlando-based Internet service provider company for trafficking in drugs made by firms in India, Israel, Costa Rica and a Caribbean bank that handled funds.

In a criminal investigation that Spitzer said remains "open," the attorney general said three of the men and the Internet corporation have already pleaded guilty and await sentencing before Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio, while five other men face trials in Buffalo.

"There is no difference between peddling such drugs on a street corner or via the Internet because sales of these drugs without prescriptions are wrong and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Spitzer said. He identified the suspects as:

Luke Amoresano, 30, of Lake Mary, Fla.

Dale Frohman, 23, and Frohman's Spiderhost Internet company of Orlando, Fla.

Michael Paschon, 30, of Manchester, N.J.

Ryan Byrtus, 25, of St. Mary, Fla.

Mark Caron, 38, of Rochester.

Rohn Wallace, 38, of Rochester.

Seung Jun Brian Hong, 26, of New Orleans.

Spitzer said Amoresano, Frohman and Frohman's company have all entered pleas before DiTullio to drug charges requiring state prison terms for the men and a fine of up to $10,000 for Frohman's Internet company.

Amoresano, a former New York City resident and the only one of the defendants currently jailed, is also facing a federal prison term on unrelated bank fraud charges in Orlando, Spitzer said.

Spitzer said the investigation so far has uncovered Web sites illegally dealing in the worldwide sale of controlled substances such as Valium, codeine and Darvon, and narcotics including morphine and Hydrocodone, all shipped into Buffalo, where the probe began last year.

Amoresano faces up to six years in state prison when he is sentenced May 11, in addition to any prison time he gets in the bank fraud case, the attorney general said. Frohman faces a possible two- to seven-year term when he is sentenced June 1.

Paschon, Hong, Caron, Wallace and Byrtus all face stiff prison terms if convicted of drug trafficking charges, Spitzer said.

None of the defendants or their attorneys could be reached to comment today. According to sources close to the investigation, Spitzer's team, including Buffalo-based prosecutors Viola Abbitt, Cydney A. Kelly and Paul F. McCarthy, have been working with law enforcement agencies in Florida, New Jersey and Louisiana on the probe.

Electronic evidence was reportedly seized since last year and analyzed by Western New York Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory, which Spitzer has made use of on earlier Internet criminal investigations, sources said.

Investigators from Spitzer's office began making Internet purchases last September. The drugs were shipped to post office boxes in Buffalo and Amherst.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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