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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of New York
Carla B. Freedman, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 3, 2024

Montgomery County Man Pleads Guilty to Fentanyl Conspiracy and Firearms Offense

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Samuel Payano, age 24, of Amsterdam, New York, pled guilty today to engaging in a drug trafficking conspiracy involving fentanyl pills, cocaine, and methamphetamine, to distributing fentanyl pills, and to using a firearm during or in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman, Frank A. Tarentino III, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division, and Bryan Miller, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), made the announcement.

Payano admitted that from May 2022 to December 2022, he conspired with Bernardo Tovar to distribute counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, as well as cocaine and methamphetamine. Payano also admitted distributing fentanyl pills and a firearm to another person on October 12, 2022. He also admitted that he and his Tovar possessed fentanyl pills, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well two firearms in their apartment, on December 7, 2022, when their apartment was searched.

Payano will be sentenced in Syracuse on September 6, 2024, by Chief United States District Judge Brenda K. Sannes. Payano faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $5 million, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of at least 4 years and up to life. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.

Payano’s co-conspirator, Tovar, previously pled guilty and was sentenced to 181 months in prison.

The DEA and ATF investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Alexander P. Wentworth-Ping is prosecuting the case.


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