MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a major heroin supplier in the Long Beach area – arrested as part of Operation Beech Sweep – was convicted at trial of all charges against him.
Rodney Coward, 44, of Long Beach, was convicted yesterday of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree (an A-II felony) and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree (a B felony). The trial, before Acting Supreme Court Justice William O’Brien, lasted approximately seven days and the jury deliberated for approximately one day. The defendant is due back on July 24 and faces a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
“The arrests associated with Operation Beech Sweep have dramatically reduced the amount of heroin and other drugs sales in Long Beach,” DA Singas said. “Rodney Coward possessed more than one ounce of uncut heroin, an amount that when cut and sold would have been more than 2,000 individual bags of heroin. With this conviction, we’ve removed a career drug dealer who routinely sold poison in our communities.”
DA Singas said that in June 2017, acting on a tip, NCPD DA Squad Detectives began a 14-month long investigation dubbed ‘Operation Beech Sweep’ into a drug trafficking ring operating primarily in Long Beach.
On June 23, 2017, Coward – who was operating a rental car with Michigan license plates – was observed in Island Park selling 31 grams of uncut heroin, enough to make approximately 2,000 doses of heroin when cut with adjuncts.
As the investigation progressed, it was revealed that the ringleader of the group was Robert Gause. During the investigation, Gause is alleged to have received crack/cocaine, and cocaine, from Carlos Andujar, an alleged Latin King gang member. Gause also supplied drugs to Rodney Coward, Ronnie Sutton, and Harold Chestnut, who then allegedly sold to dozens of local users in Long Beach, Inwood, and Atlantic Beach. Gause also had connections to buy and then resell heroin, oxycodone pills, and Xanax.
More than half a kilogram of drugs and more than 100 pills were recovered during the investigation. Additionally, during the execution of a search warrant, a loaded .357 Magnum Revolver and a shotgun were found inside Sutton’s home.
The drug ring, which operated along Beech Street in Long Beach for several years, bought and sold only to insiders with the hope of shielding themselves from arrests and prosecutions.
The defendants were arrested in November 2018 by members of the NCPD DA Squad.
Three of the defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Andujar’s case is due back in court on July 8.
Deputy Bureau Chief Anne Donnelly and Senior Assistant District Attorney George Smit of DA Singas’ Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau are prosecuting this case. Coward is represented by Joseph LoPiccolo, Esq.
Gause is represented by William Shanahan, Esq., Sutton is represented Mindy Plotkin, Esq. Chestnut is represented by Sheryl Channer, Esq., Andujar is represented by Steven Gaitman, Esq.,
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.