York City store owner sentenced to nearly 22 years in federal prison

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Raul Cotto-Rivera

A former York City corner-store owner has been sentenced to more than two decades in federal prison for trafficking drugs — including from his store.

Raul Cotto-Rivera, 41, was sentenced in Harrisburg's federal court on Wednesday, June 12, to 262 months in federal prison, which is nearly 22 years. He also was fined $2,000 and ordered to spend five years on the federal version of probation after being released, court records state.

Cotto-Rivera owned the former La Esquina Sabrosa corner store at 100 W. Jackson St. during the time he was under investigation and sold drugs from that store, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg.

There's a different store at that address now.

A jury convicted Cotto-Rivera in March 2018 of distributing heroin, cocaine and marijuana, as well as conspiracy to distribute drugs, court records state.

Police oversaw a number of controlled drug buys of heroin by and through Cotto-Rivera in September and October 2015, according to Dawn Clark, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

$20K cash, drugs seized: Based on those buys, police obtained a search warrant and raided Cotto-Rivera's home, where they found about $20,000 cash, heroin, cocaine, a drug ledger and drug packaging materials, Clark said in a news release.

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"While on (bail) release, Cotto-Rivera continued to sell drugs and was engaged in the distribution of marijuana from his store," Clark wrote. "A second search warrant executed in February 2017 located distribution quantities of marijuana and cocaine, drug packaging materials and a loaded stolen firearm."

Cotto-Rivera's defense attorney, Elisabeth Pasqualini, declined comment on Friday, June 14.

How York City crippled a criminal empire

The investigation against Cotto-Rivera was conducted by federal, state and local authorities, including York City Police, the York County Drug Task Force, York Area Regional Police, West Manchester Township Police, Springettsbury Township Police, the York County Sheriff's Office, state police and the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force, according to Clark.

The case was part of the U.S. Attorney's Office's Heroin Initiative, which targets heroin traffickers in the federal Middle District of Pennsylvania.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.