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Crime & Courts

Crime & Courts

A former Lake George man who moved to Florida after numerous local drug convictions has been sentenced to 12 1/2 years in federal prison for possessing 95 kilos of cocaine.

Richard R. Senese, 39, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Miami earlier this year to a felony count, following the seizure of drugs that were found in a hidden compartment inside the fuel tank of a 28-foot boat. Ninety-five kilograms equals 202 pounds.

He was arrested last March 18, after the boat he was piloting broke down in the Atlantic Ocean, about 10 miles offshore of Port Everglades, court records show. The boat was towed ashore by Customs and Border Protection agents, and a police dog that was brought to check the vessel alerted to the presence of drugs, records show.

Senese agreed to a plea deal that resulted in a sentence of 151 months in federal prison.

His lawyer wrote that Senese had “only a history of drug possession,” although prior media reports show two felony arrests for cocaine possession in Warren and Saratoga counties in 2000 and 2002 and that Senese was convicted of selling marijuana in Warren County in 2001. He was acquitted of felony charges that alleged he sold cocaine in Warren County in 2000.

His last arrest in Warren County occurred in 2007, when he was charged with cocaine possession and driving while intoxicated in Glens Falls days after being paroled from prison. He was sent back to prison for violating parole and was released in late 2008.

Despite pleading guilty, Senese has filed a notice of appeal in the case. His lawyer has claimed his boat was tracked illegally through an electronic monitoring device, and law enforcement officers did not have probable cause to search the boat.

Senese did not own the boat. Federal investigators acknowledged that a tracking device had been placed on the vessel, because “it was previously owned by a known drug dealer,” his lawyer, Samuel Lopez, wrote in court records. The drugs were found only after the boat was taken apart, Lopez pointed out.

Senese was by himself and claimed he was on his way back from the Bahamas, where he had stayed overnight after fishing and betting on sports. He had fish with him, but federal prosecutors said his story had major holes.

“Senese could not remember the name of the hotel where he stayed,” federal prosecutors said in a news release. “He also was unable to produce any documentation related to his stay or show that he had cleared Bahamian Customs.”

He will spend 5 years on parole after his release from prison.

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reporter

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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