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Federal jury convicts man of selling cocaine

A federal court jury found a local man guilty Tuesday of intending to sell cocaine but acquitted him of a charge of intending to sell marijuana.

The verdict followed a three-day trial that focused on Derek McQuiller’s arrest by Town of Tonawanda police in April of last year and the allegation that police saw him throw a bag of cocaine out of the car he was riding in.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward H. White and Stephanie Lamarque relied on videotape of McQuiller’s arrest and subsequent time in a cellblock to make their case against him.

They also relied on Kimberly Van Elk, the driver of the car that night, who testified that she regularly bought marijuana, and occasionally cocaine, from McQuiller. Van Elk previously pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of marijuana and driving while impaired.

McQuiller’s defense lawyers, Assistant Federal Public Defenders John F. Humann and Brian P. Comerford, countered by suggesting their client was a user, not a dealer. They also challenged Van Elk’s credibility and claimed she got a sweetheart deal in return for her cooperation.

McQuiller will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.