A federal grand jury, sitting in Rutland, charged three men from the Hartford, Connecticut area with an assortment of heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine offenses. The defendants are: Ralph Mariani (a.k.a. “D”), 27, of East Hartford, Connecticut; Cedano Brownswell, 26, of Hartford, Connecticut; and Rashane Wedderburn, 25, of Hartford, Connecticut. The five-count indictment includes charges that: Mariani and Wedderburn distributed Fentanyl; Mariani possessed, with the intent to distribute cocaine base and fentanyl; and Brownswell possessed cocaine base.
On November 18 law enforcement executed a federal search warrant for an apartment at 78 Traverse Place in Rutland, Vermont. Mariani, Wedderburn, and Brownswell were present at the time of this search. Law enforcement seized approximately 72 grams of suspected powder cocaine, 45 grams of suspected cocaine base, 69 bags of suspected fentanyl, 52 suspected Oxycodone pills, an amount of suspected marijuana, and four firearms, including a loaded 9mm pistol located on the living room couch. Of those total drug amounts, approximately 29 grams of suspected cocaine base, 44 bags of suspected fentanyl, and 52 suspected Oxycodone pills were located on Mariani’s person. Law enforcement also seized over six thousand dollars in cash: $2,380 from Mariani, $1,880 from Cedano, and $2,134 from Wedderburn.
At his arraignment, Mariani pled not guilty to the charges. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Conroy ordered Mariani detained pending trial and held in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. The arraignment for Wedderburn and Brownswell is currently scheduled for December 10.
The maximum penalties for the charged drug offenses range from 20 years of imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine for the drug trafficking offenses to three years of imprisonment and $100,000 fine for the drug possession offense. The actual sentence, however, is informed by the advisory Sentencing Guidelines. The Indictment is an accusation only, the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Vermont State Police (Narcotics Investigation Unit), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Rutland City Police, and Homeland Security Investigations of the Department of Homeland Security.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella. Mariani is represented by Elizabeth Quinn, Esq., of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Burlington. Wedderburn is represented by Lisa Shelkrot, Esq., of Burlington, and Brownswell is represented by Alan Sullivan, Esq. of Manchester, Vermont.
Any accusations of racial profiling yet?
Wayne, I haven’t seen any yet. As far as I can tell, all or at least most of the men are of color. I don’t think that should matter, one way or the other. I’m more interested in the fact that drug dealers from Hartford CT seem to be (and have been for some while) targeting Vermont for drug dealing, in some cases in exchange for guns.