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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of New York

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, January 2, 2024
Trini E. Ross
, United States Attorney

Federal Jury Convicts Father and Son for Killing a Niagara Falls Man in Furtherance of a Drug Conspiracy

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced today that a federal jury has convicted Lavon Parks, aka "Dutch," 32, and his father, James C. Parks, 58, both of Niagara Falls, of narcotics conspiracy, discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and discharge of firearm causing death. In addition, Lavon Parks was also convicted of attempt to possess, with intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys P. Richard Antoine, Caitlin M. Higgins, and Joel L. Violanti, who handled the prosecution of the case, stated that between May 2017, and March 2019, the defendants were part of a conspiracy to sell cocaine in the Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY areas. On the afternoon of Jan. 21, 2018, Kevin Turner was murdered in a shooting in front of a Niagara Street residence in Niagara Falls. Turner was an alleged crack cocaine dealer who had recently moved from Buffalo to Niagara Falls, where, the night before the shooting, he was staying just a few blocks from the scene of the shooting. The afternoon of the shooting, Turner went to the Niagara Street residence to sell crack cocaine. After exiting the residence, Turner was shot and killed. Evidence was presented by the Government that Lavon Parks and James Parks were driving around the area in a truck immediately before the shooting, apparently looking for someone. Video evidence placed a truck registered to Lavon Parks’ then-girlfriend in the immediate area of the shooting both before and after the murder. Ballistics recovered from the scene of the shooting matched a firearm that was recovered approximately two weeks later from an individual in Niagara Falls who was not near the scene at the time of Turner’s death. The firearm, however, was one of several firearms that were illegally trafficked from Pittsburgh, by an individual who testified that he sold this type of firearm, along with at least seven others, to Lavon Parks in exchange for drugs.

The investigation included a series of controlled buys and payments involving defendant Lavon Parks. Investigators seized approximately 8.5 kilograms of cocaine and $52,000 in U.S. currency from postal parcels shipped from Puerto Rico to various locations in the Western District of New York, Florida, Alaska, Georgia and Pennsylvania using the U.S. Postal Service. The shipments were made to co-conspirators. Additionally, the investigation identified $55,700 in U.S. currency and/or money orders shipped in parcels from co-conspirators to Puerto Rico as payment to the source of supply for the cocaine.

The jury verdict is the result of an investigation by the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Superintendent Nicholas Ligammari; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Frank Tarantino III, New York Field Division; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. DeVito, New York Field Division; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Ketty Larco-Ward of the Boston Division.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 26 for Lavon Parks and June 27 for James Parks, both before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo, who presided over the trial of the case.

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New York Field Division