BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Two of seven people arrested by Erie County Sheriff’s deputies after cocaine was found on a boat last Thursday are City of Buffalo employees, including the man accused of selling the cocaine.
The sheriff’s office Marine Unit stopped the vessel for speeding too close to shore shortly after the concert at the outer harbor ended Thursday night. Seven people were on board and deputies located 18 bags of cocaine, which they say was being sold by 32-year-old Melvin Ward.
Ward and Elizabeth Honan, two City of Buffalo employees, were fired from their jobs in the parks department the day after the arrest.
“Several people had it on them. And we also located some cocaine on the vessel itself,” said Erie County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit Deputy Mike Okal.
In all, the cocaine totaled a half ounce. Deputies say they were patting down the passengers, when 25-year-old Matthew Ohleman made their stop more difficult.
“When it was getting down to him, that’s when the gentleman decided to get into the water,” Okal said.
“Mr. Ohleman was obstructing our investigation of the vessel stop. And he intentionally didn’t follow orders, and jumped into the waterway,” Deputy Chris Soluri said.
News 4’s Lou Raguse spoke by phone with Ohleman, who was pulled out of the water. Heclaimed he had no idea there were drugs in the boat and he says he never jumped into the water. He claims he fell because he was drunk.
“That would definitely be inaccurate,” Deputy Soluri said.
The deputies say Ohleman swam around to the back of the boat where they pulled him back up and charged him with obstruction.
Deputies aren’t able to comment on whether he or any other suspects were trying to get rid of evidence, because the investigation is on-going and more charges could be on the way.
There is another bizarre detail in this story. The main suspect, Melvin Ward, suffered a seizure on the boat while being arrested. He went to the hospital before turning himself into authorities. He faces the most serious charges, including the intent to sell drugs.