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Key figure admits guilt in drug sweep

A man who set up shop as a cocaine dealer in a Niagara Falls bar pleaded guilty Thursday to two felonies and agreed to testify if necessary against the other 12 defendants in the case.

Dewayne M. Holland, 27, of South Avenue, Niagara Falls, faces a maximum of 19 years in state prison when he is sentenced April 23. Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza revoked his $25,000 bail Thursday and sent him to the County Jail to await sentencing.

Holland pleaded guilty to second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance for specific drug sales Aug. 8 and Oct. 9. The pleas settled an indictment, unsealed Jan. 22, that charged him with 20 felonies.

Assistant State Attorney General Kevin Kane of the attorney general's Organized Crime Task Force said in court that Holland agreed to give his team information "on the depth and breadth of his criminal activities in Niagara Falls over the past year."

Defense attorney James J. Faso said that given the evidence against Holland, "I don't think he has any alternative to accepting the plea offer."

Holland based his operation in the Waterworks, a bar on Buffalo Avenue, the indictment says. Police have said Holland also sold cocaine from his home, but he regularly hung out in the Waterworks all night, supplying the LaSalle area's narcotics needs.

Robert W. Leo, 42, the bar owner, was among those arrested in the Jan. 22 roundup.

The indictment was based primarily on information gathered by tapping Holland's cell phone from May 29 to Oct. 9. This enabled investigators to listen in to calls between Holland and the other defendants, setting up cocaine deals.

Holland himself was arrested Oct. 9 while sitting in his vehicle in a Niagara Falls parking lot. Niagara Falls narcotics officers reported at the time that they found 11 small plastic bags of cocaine in the vehicle.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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