By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — Otsego and Delaware counties’ biggest dealer of oxycodone powder has been found guilty of four felonies after a trial in Otsego County Court, Cooperstown.
A jury deliberated 40 minutes before convicting Dante D. Major, 36, of Hobart, of operating as a major trafficker by selling more than $75,000 worth of drugs during a period of six months or less, a Class A-1 felony under the state “drug kingpin” law.
“When he was in action, he was the oxycodone powder man for all of Otsego and Delaware counties,” Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said Monday. “He was selling oxycodone at probably a rate of $50,000 worth every couple of weeks.”
Major also was convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, a Class A-1 felony; criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony, and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony.
“He’s one of the two biggest drug dealers I’ve tried since I took office in 2001,” Muehl said.
Major was arrested March 23 after a yearlong probe dubbed Operation Gold Rush.
The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office, led the investigation with help from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York State Police and other agencies, Muehl said.
“They did a fantastic job,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get to one of these big guys. They’re very careful about who they sell to and who they deal with.”
Muehl said that Major was “too smart to use phones,” so police concentrated on rolling up his organization.
“You’re only as good as your underlings,” he said.
Muehl said that police “had several controlled buys into the people (Major) sold to.” “Eventually, it worked its way up the ladder,” he added.
Many of those lower-echelon dealers gave evidence at trial against Major, some with the promise of immunity from the crimes they described.
As part of the investigation, police raided residences on county Route 4 in Wells Bridge in October 2011 and in Oneonta in December, seizing 3½ and 10 ounces of powdered oxycodone, respectively.
Major has four prior felony convictions, Muehl said, adding that he would seek a sentence of 15 years to life.
He said the investigation eventually will result in eight to 10 convictions.
Major was represented by Michael Jacobs of Stamford. Judge Brian D. Burns presided at the trial.