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Undercover police agent appears to plant drugs on Scotia businessman

Updated: 07/23/2013 5:38 PM
Created: 07/23/2013 5:27 PM WNYT.com
By: Bill Lambdin

SCOTIA- Donald Andrews, Jr. operates a so-called smoke shop on Mohawk Avenue in Scotia. It sells incense and other smoking paraphernalia. It's legal stuff, but material that might also be re-purposed for other illicit activities.

Scotia and Schenectady County police became suspicious and targeted Andrews' shop, sending an undercover informant in twice in March.

The second time,

Andrews' attorney Kevin Luibrand showed video of the second visit, which appears to show the informant planting, then photographing crack cocaine that led to Andrews' arrest.

"He comes in," Luibrand narrated over video shot on in-store surveillance cameras. "Places the crack on the counter. Crack, which under federal sentencing guidelines, would get him four years in jail. Under New York State law would get him two to seven years in jail."

There are seven cameras in plain view in Andrews' small store. 

Members of the Schenectady chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference viewed the apparent framing of an African-American businessman and were outraged.

"It was a set-up and I believe that he was racially profiled and targeted," said Treasure Clayton. "It would be easy for them to say that he was selling drugs because he was black."

Neither the Schenectady County sheriff nor the Scotia police chief were available to be interviewed about the apparent planting of evidence.

By phone the sheriff acknowledged proper procedures were not followed, but denied his investigators purposely framed the suspect.  The sheriff blamed the informant, who has taken flight.

Andrews was arrested, but released when he was able to get police to look at the multiple camera angles.

He's taken the first step toward filing a lawsuit for wrongful arrest.

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