Police Seize Drugs, Money During Music Festival

More than 30 people were charged during the Fourth of July weekend at the Great Blue Heron Music Festival. Photo by the New York State Police

Editor’s note: The New York State Police said 65-year-old Manuel Shields was not among those charged during this year’s Great Blue Heron Music Festival. His name had been included in a report issued by state police.

SHERMAN — A cache of drugs, money and a pickup truck were among items seized during this year’s Great Blue Heron Music Festival.

In a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, more than 30 people were taken into custody on 70 charges over the Fourth of July holiday on or near the festival grounds.

Over a five-day span, the agencies reported collecting $3,000 in cash, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, synthetic marijuana, LSD, mushrooms and edibles, among others narcotics. Also seized was a Chevrolet Silverado.

“The collaboration of all the involved agencies has made this year’s detail a success,” Chautauqua County Sheriff Jim Quattrone said. “We look forward to a continued collaboration of all the agencies to best serve the safety and security of our community.”

A message sent to festival organizers wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.

Among notable arrests were to 34-year-old Philabelle McCarthy-Shields and 22-year-old Alexis Matuszewski, all from Buffalo. According to a press release Wednesday, all three were charged with felony criminal possession of a controlled substance, 11 counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana and endangering the welfare of a child less than 17.

Additional charges against the trio Buffalo residents are pending, police said.

“This operation is one that we participate in because the safety of the concert-goers is our priority,” said Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson. “The multi-jurisdictional law enforcement agencies participating are great. Ultimately, we just want a safe concert weekend.”

Also taken into custody at the festival were 38-year-old Joshua Paterson and 25-year-old Danielle Johnston, both of South Dayton, on charges of fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Derek Gramling, 29, of Cumming, Ga., and Steven Bicks, 30, of Madison, Ind., were each charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and “several additional drug charges,” police said.

Meanwhile, Fredonia residents Brian Christina, 50; Lamont Brown, 31; Andrew Sobilo, 30; and Dunkirk resident Loren Dumen, 31, were each charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance (intent to sell) and additional drug charges.

Capt. Eric Balon of the New York State Police touted the collabortation between agencies tasked with policing the annual music festival.

“Every year during this detail, we are assisted by the Jamestown Police Department, New York State Forest Rangers and Chautauqua County Probation. Their assistance and expertise with this operation greatly contributes to its success.”


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