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Sheriff Announce Sentencing of Convicted Drug Traffickers, and Murderer

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The Cortland County Sheriff have announced that 38 year old Kyle Leeper will be behind bars in Federal Prison for 40 years for the murder of Bound Victim. The sentencing comes after a joint investigation of a meth conspiracy in Cortland, Indiana, and Los Angeles.











Leeper of Palmyra Pa, was sentenced to 40 years for a murder that he committed during a drug trafficking conspiracy, conspiring to distribute and possess with an intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth, and being in possession of a firearm with ammunition as a convicted felon.

Kyle Leeper pleaded guilty to the charges against him. Part of his plea, he admitted he was a part of the conspiracy that trafficked high amounts of meth from Indiana, and Los Angeles to Cortland County, where he then distributed them to local residents and drug dealers.

Four 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 was 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.

Cortland County Sheriff Mark E. Helms said, “I am extremely proud of both Sgt. Mike Winchell and Officer Peter Wright for turning what some would consider a routine traffic stop into a major multi-agency investigation. Additionally, I would like to thank all the other investigators from my office, as well as all the other officers and agencies that worked together and were able to put together this complex case resulting in the successful prosecution of Kyle Leeper and Arlene Rodriguez. This truly is a great example of local, state, and federal agencies working together.”

Ramon Nieves-Cotto, 30, of DeRuyter, pled guilty to aiding and abetting a murder during a drug conspiracy, and conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. He was sentenced on October 7, 2022, to serve 156 months in federal prison, and a four-year term of supervised release.

Crystal J. Stephens, 34, of Groton, New York, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. She was sentenced on November 15, 2022, to serve 100 months in federal prison, and a four-year term of supervised release.

Arlene N. Rodriguez, 38, of Montebello, California, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and possession of a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime. She was sentenced on October 6, 2022, to serve 94 months in prison, to be followed by a four-year term of supervised release.

Jose Pimentel, Jr., 31, of Los Angeles, California, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 1, 2022.

Edgar Arredondo, 35, of Los Angeles, California, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. He also pled guilty to charges based on his possession in the Central District of California of shotgun ammunition, and 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 1, 2022.

John Rice, 57, of Crawfordsville, Indiana, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 12, 2023.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Janeen DiGuiseppe said, “Today’s sentence is indicative of the success that can be attained when federal, state, and local agencies combine resources to remove violent offenders from our communities. Mr. Leeper was so committed to trafficking dangerous drugs into Cortland County he was willing to kill anyone who stood in his way. Thanks to the strong collaboration between our law enforcement partners in New York and California, he is now being held accountable for his despicable actions. The FBI is grateful to our law enforcement partners and we remain dedicated to working together to investigate and apprehend violent drug traffickers whose actions threaten the health and safety of our neighborhoods.”





 

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