An Astoria man faces multiple charges for allegedly possessing and selling narcotics laced with Fentanyl.
Bernard Lewis, 45, was caught as part of a long-term narcotics investigation that led to several arrests and included the use of court-authorized wiretaps. The investigation was launched following two non-fatal overdoses.
Lewis, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office, allegedly had telephone conversations between April 6 and June 17 with six individuals who asked to purchase narcotics from him.
Lewis, or one of his associates, would then drop off the drugs for cash after each call, according to the District Attorney’s Office. In each case, the buyer was arrested and the drugs seized. The drugs were chemically analyzed, which confirmed the presence of Fentanyl.
On Friday, Lewis was arraigned and was ordered held without bail.
Lewis was charged in a 15-count criminal complaint, including one count of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and six counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
Lewis’ wife, Catrice Brown, was also caught up in the investigation. She was charged with several counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, among other charges. She faces up to nine years in prison if convicted.
District Attorney Richard A. Brown said the investigation was launched in response to the increased number of drug overdoses in Queens and New York City in recent times.
According to data from the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there were more than 1,300 fatal overdoses in New York City in 2016, a nearly 40 percent increase from the previous year, and approximately half of the drug overdoses in the last six months of 2016 involved Fentanyl.
“Heroin, unfortunately, has made a deadly comeback in New York City and in the surrounding suburbs,” Brown said. “Over the past six and a half months, Queens has had 81 fatal overdoses – far exceeding the number of homicides and vehicular deaths that have occurred in the borough so far this year.”
In one drug deal, Lewis allegedly received a phone call May 9 from an associate, Hubert Harris, 66, of Corona, who said he needed to get a supply of narcotics. Approximately an hour later, Harris allegedly arrived on a bicycle at Lewis’ home and spent approximately 45 minutes inside before exiting.
Harris was then arrested shortly after he left Lewis’ home while riding his bike on the corner of 41 Road and 12th Street. Police allegedly recovered 98 white glassine envelopes, which contained a mixture of Fentanyl and heroin.
Harris faces up to 12 years in prison and remains in jail in lieu of his bail.
Lewis implicated himself in his drug dealing when he received a prison call from Harris and they discussed bailing him out, according to the District Attorney’s office.
“If I use a bondsman they are going to want know where the money came from. I can’t do that,” Lewis allegedly said. Harris allegedly replied that the bail was so high because the drugs he was charged with selling were Fentanyl, and that Fentanyl was killing people.
In response, Lewis allegedly stated that he should have got Harris underwear with a hidden pocket to hide the drugs.
The police searched Lewis’ home on July 19, and allegedly recovered one large rock of Fentanyl, a box containing numerous empty glassine envelopes commonly used to package Fentanyl and heroin; two large plastic bags containing more than 750 glassine envelopes containing Fentanyl inside a shoe box in the hall closet; and $2,900 in cash.
Lewis’ next court date is Aug. 4.