RI Man Pleads Guilty After Seen Handling ‘Large Chunk’ of Cocaine

Providence, R.I. – A Providence man arrested shortly after police watched him handling a large chunk of cocaine and counting large sums of cash in his apartment pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. Brayanth Fernandez, 36, pleaded guilty to one count each of possession of more than 500 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. Police seized more than 4 kilos of cocaine and $96,000 in cash from Fernandez at the time of his arrest.

The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, which was entered before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Adi Goldstein, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, told the court, had the matter gone to trial, the government was prepared to present evidence that on February 25, 2010, Providence Police detectives watched from a nearby garage as Fernandez counted a large amount of cash and picked up a chunk of what appeared to be cocaine powder and placed it into a plastic bag.  A short time later, Fernandez left the apartment.

Soon after Fernandez entered his vehicle, law enforcement agents converged around it.  On the front passenger seat, inside an open blue bag, police observed a plastic bag containing a white powdery substance. The substance was later weighed and tested and found to be 299 grams of cocaine. In the trunk of the vehicle police discovered items used in the “cutting” and repackaging of cocaine. Police also discovered two wads of cash totaling $2486 in Fernandez's pockets.

Police also conducted a search of Fernandez's apartment where they discovered about four kilos of cocaine in a shopping bag, a white cloth bag that contained $90,020 in cash, several smaller bags containing cocaine and an additional $3,700 in cash.

In total, police seized from Fernandez's vehicle and residence in excess of 4.4 kilograms of cocaine and $96,206 in cash.

Fernandez, who has been detained since his arrest, is scheduled to be sentenced on October 6, 2010. He faces a maximum sentence of 5-40 years imprisonment, a minimum of 4 years of supervised release, and a $2,000,000 fine on the charge of possessing more than 500 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute;      20 years imprisonment, supervised release up to life with a mandatory minimum of 3 years, and a $1,000,000 fine on the charge of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

The matter was investigated by the Providence Police Department, with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration.