Decades in federal prison for York City dealer caught with heroin, handguns
A York City drug dealer caught with heroin and and handguns during a 2018 raid of his home by the York County Drug Task Force has been sentenced to more than two decades in federal prison.
Fernandino Rodriguez-Colon, 40, formerly of the 800 block of Wallace Street, learned his punishment on Thursday, Aug. 15, in Harrisburg's federal court.
He pleaded guilty April 15 to the felonies of distributing heroin and cocaine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, according to court records.
Rodriguez-Colon was sentenced to 262 months in prison, or nearly 22 years, by Senior U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo, followed by six years of supervised release, records state. Supervised release is the federal system's version of probation.
His federal charges stemmed from an investigation by the York County Drug Task Force.
U.S. Attorney David Freed and York County District Attorney Dave Sunday have told The York Dispatch that their offices work together to fight York County street violence and drug trafficking. The partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement is known as the Project Safe Neighborhoods program.
Rodriguez-Colon remains charged in York County with three counts of drug dealing, two counts of being a felon in illegal possession of firearms and one count of receiving stolen property, court records state. All the charges are felonies.
He has a pretrial conference scheduled in York County Court for Dec. 9. Generally, people charged in federal court based on York County charges have their county charges dropped once convicted and sentenced in federal court.
Task force raid: Members of the county's drug task force raided Rodriguez-Colon's home on Feb. 5, 2018. Police seized 21 grams of heroin, nearly 12 grams of crack-cocaine, $1,300 cash and two handguns, officials have said.
One of the handguns was stolen, which is why Rodriguez-Colon was charged with receiving stolen property, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the DA's office.
The amount of heroin seized is the equivalent of about 719 individual doses, according to a news release from Dawn Clark, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg.
The raid and arrest were the culmination of a three-week investigation of Rodriguez-Colon, during which undercover task force members bought heroin from him, according to King.
Sued prison: In January, Rodriguez-Colon filed a federal lawsuit against York County Prison, asking for $50,000 and claiming his rights were violated because his family couldn't send him a book about federal criminal court procedures.
He represented himself. His handwritten complaint noted that the book was not accepted by the prison because it didn't come from Books-A-Million's online book store.
Rodriguez-Colon wrote that legal reference books such as the one he sought aren't available through Books-A-Million and that the "numerous" grievances he filed about it didn't result in him getting the book he wanted. The copy sent to him by a family member wasn't accepted for delivery by the prison, he wrote.
"I would like the Prison to come up with a better solution on obtaining legal books," the lawsuit states.
Rodriguez-Colon also argued there should be more computers in the prison's library.
On Feb. 27, Judge Rambo dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning he can refile the suit later.
It was thrown out because Rodriguez-Colon failed to either pay the $400 filing fee or file a request to proceed in forma pauperis, in which case the fee could be waived, according to court documents.
After the lawsuit was filed, Rambo gave the inmate 30 days to either pay the fee or request in forma pauperis status, but he did neither, according to her order.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.