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Former Niagara Falls cop admits helping drug-dealing boyfriend

Stephanie A. Costanzo let her boyfriend store his cocaine at her Niagara Falls home.

One problem, though: Costanzo was a police officer.

On Monday, the 29-year-old former Falls cop admitted helping her drug-dealing boyfriend as part of a plea agreement that carries a recommended sentence of up to six months in prison.

Costanzo, a four-year veteran of the force, also lost her job.

"This is a very sad case," said defense attorney Joseph M. LaTona. "Stephanie accepts full responsibility for what she did and, as a result, lost her job as a police officer."

Costanzo pleaded guilty to managing a drug-involved premise and, as part of her plea deal, admitted she knew her boyfriend, Raymond C. Hopson, was involved in selling crack cocaine.

Later in the day Monday, Hopson and Lindsay R. Carrier Jr., another defendant in the case, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.

"The defendant was aware that Hopson stored his cocaine and paraphernalia at her residence," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel L. Violanti. "However, she did not participate in the underlying distribution offenses."

In the original complaint against the three defendants, a Niagara Falls police detective said Costanzo admitted accompanying Hopson two or three times a week while he picked up money.

She also admitted carrying a .38-caliber semiautomatic handgun in her purse while traveling with Hopson, according to an affidavit signed by the detective.

“Costanzo was asked why she never confronted him with what he was doing, especially because she is a police officer,” the detective said in his statement. “Costanzo stated she didn’t want to believe he was selling drugs.”

The complaint also says Costanzo told police that she last saw Hopson with cocaine a few days before their arrest in 2016 when she handed him “a scale that was in her bedroom on the nightstand.”

The federal charges against her stemmed from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Niagara Falls Police Department.

In her plea deal, Costanzo admits DEA agents found 5.6 grams of cocaine in her Grand Avenue home during a raid in late 2016.

Niagara Falls police said she is not suspected of any wrongdoing while on duty, or of using her law enforcement position to help sell drugs.

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