A former federal security officer who used to work at Buffalo Niagara International Airport was placed on five years’ probation Thursday for selling cocaine on the side for about six months after his work day at the airport.
But authorities found no evidence that his drug dealing involved his job with the Transportation Security Administration at the airport, where he had worked from November 2011 until he resigned June 7, a day after his arrest.
State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski sentenced Todd Stoddard, 29, of Kingswood Drive, Cheektowaga, who pleaded guilty in July to felony charges of selling and possessing drugs. He had faced a maximum prison sentence of 18 years, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.
At sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Kathryn N. Soluri said Stoddard told the Probation Department in its presentencing report that he had been selling cocaine for six months before he was arrested in June in the Town of Tonawanda. That arrest came a couple weeks after he sold cocaine to an undercover sheriff’s deputy in a bar parking lot on Sheridan Drive.
Soluri told the judge that the District Attorney’s Office was recommending Stoddard be sentenced to jail.
“Really?” Michalski said. “The office usually doesn’t do that.”
The judge, without comment, then placed Stoddard on probation and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service.
Andrew C. LoTempio, Stoddard’s attorney, said his client has paid a price for his crime, losing a good job with the TSA and his pension.
He said Stoddard supplemented his TSA income by selling small amounts of cocaine at bars in the Town of Tonawanda. He said his client now has another job.
Stoddard apologized and told the judge that he has learned a lesson. “You won’t see me again,” he said.
The June 6 arrest was spurred by a tip in May that Stoddard was selling cocaine near the Sheridan Drive bar, leading to a monthlong, joint investigation by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and police from Cheektowaga and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. That investigation led to the May 23 drug sale to the undercover deputy in the bar parking lot.
Stoddard was arrested after sheriff’s deputies obtained search warrants for him and his vehicle, and he was pulled over on Vicksburg Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda. At that time, he had powder cocaine individually packaged for sale, digital scales and other paraphernalia in his possession.