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Cortland County Sheriff: Two Men from Los Angeles Sentenced for Drug Conspiracy that Led to Homicide


The Cortland County Sheriff’s Office has announced the sentencing of two men from Los Angeles for their part in a conspiracy to acquire meth from California and sell it in Cortland County.

A 20 year sentence was given to 31 year old Edgar Arrendondo, and a 12 year and 7 months sentence was given to 35 year old Jose Pimentel, for conspiring to provide over 50 grams of meth to co-defendant Kyle Leeper, who intended to sell it in Cortland County. Arrendondo was additionally sentenced for his possession in the Central District of California of a shotgun and ammunition as a convicted felon, and possession of 50 grams of meth.

The 4 other defendants in the case were sentenced back in October and November 2022, with Kyle Leeper sentenced to 40 years for the murder.

Five years ago, in 2018, a co-defendant Crystal Stephens of Groton, had contacted Leeper by phone with information to a Indiana drug dealer, John Rice. Leeper would travel twice to Indiana where he would obtain meth and a .380 caliber pistol from Rice. Leeper then distributed the drugs in the Cortland County area.

Rice, though, was arrested in 2019. This is when Leeper would then travel to L.A. to purchase additional meth to distribute locally after receiving sources from Crystal Stephens, who was currently incarcerated. Leeper and one of his associates, Ramon Nieves-Cotto, drove from Cortland to Los Angeles and met with a middleman. The middleman arranged for Leeper to buy 3 pounds of meth for $5,000 dollars.

After the meth was delivered to a motel in El Monte, CA, Leeper realized he was shortchanged by the middleman of the quantity he was delivered. Leeper then abducted the middleman and another, Arelene Rodriguez, by gunpoint. Nieves-Cotto purchased zip ties to have Leeper bind the middleman.

During the night of January 17, 2019, Leeper shot the middleman eight times from behind with the gun he originally got in possession of from Indiana. After killing the middleman, Leeper, along with Nieves-Cotto and now Rodriguez, drove back to Cortland to distribute the meth he originally obtained.

The trio returned to LA the following month to purchase another 6 to 8 pounds of meth and a 9mm pistol. After the purchase, the group returned to Cortland County to distribute the drugs again.

Then on February 19th, Leeper and Rodriguez were stopped by an officer from the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department for an expired registration and cracked windshield. During the investigation, officers found 4 pounds of high-purity meth, a loaded .380 caliber pistol, the one that Leeper used to commit the murder, and ammunition. Leeper was arrested by the Sheriff at the scene.

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