Home Philadelphia Press Releases 2010 Police Officers and Alleged Drug Dealers Charged in Drug Case

Police Officers and Alleged Drug Dealers Charged in Drug Case

U.S. Attorney’s Office July 13, 2010
  • Eastern District of Pennsylvania (215) 861-8200

PHILADELPHIA—An indictment was unsealed today against Robert Snyder, Mark Williams, and James Venziale, all Philadelphia police officers assigned to the 25th and 39th Districts, as well as Zachary Young, Angel Ortiz, Christal Snyder, and Miguel Santiago, charging them in a drug conspiracy case involving heroin and related offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. According to the indictment, the defendants planned and executed a scheme to steal heroin from Santiago and then distribute that heroin to another person whom the defendants believed to be a drug dealer and money launderer, but who was, in reality, an undercover special agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Joining in today’s announcement were DEA Special Agent-in-Charge John Bryfonski, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk, and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

According to the indictment, Young and Ortiz were involved in the distribution of heroin, which they obtained on a periodic basis from Santiago and other sources. In mid-April, Young and Ortiz began to develop a scheme to steal 300 grams of heroin from their supplier, Miguel Santiago. The indictment further alleges that Philadelphia Police Officers Robert Snyder, Mark Williams, and James Venziale abused their authority as police officers and agreed to assist Young and Ortiz in this scheme to steal heroin from Santiago. The indictment alleges that Young and Ortiz discussed with the Snyders, Williams, and Venziale various ways that they could use their positions as police officers to steal the heroin from Santiago. The indictment details how Robert Snyder, Williams, Young, and Ortiz implemented the plan after this discussion.

On May 14, 2010, immediately after Santiago’s drug courier delivered 300 grams of heroin to Ortiz, Officers Williams and Venziale—who were on duty and in uniform—stopped Ortiz’s vehicle while he was in possession of the 300 grams of heroin, which had just been supplied to him by Santiago’s courier. With Santiago’s courier watching nearby, Officers Williams and Venziale made it appear as if they were seizing the heroin and arresting Ortiz by handcuffing him outside the vehicle Ortiz had occupied. According to the indictment, Christal Snyder, Robert Snyder’s wife, facilitated the conspiracy by passing information, frequently via telephone or via text message, between Ortiz, and Robert Snyder, Mark Williams, and James Venziale.

The indictment alleges that, as a result of the co-conspirators obtaining the 300 grams of heroin without payment to Santiago, Ortiz paid Williams and Venziale approximately $6,000, and paid Christal Snyder an additional amount of currency.

In addition to the conspiracy, the indictment charges Young, Ortiz, and Mark Williams with distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin and with using a telephone in furtherance of a drug conspiracy. Robert and Christal Snyder are charged with conspiracy and with using a telephone in furtherance of a drug conspiracy. James Venziale is charged with conspiracy and with distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin. Santiago is charged with distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin. He is the only defendant not charged in the conspiracy count.

Additional information regarding the defendants, all from Philadelphia, is available below:

  • Zachary Young, born in 1959
  • Angel Ortiz, born in 1985
  • Miguel Santiago, born in 1971
  • Robert Snyder, born in 1980
  • Christal Snyder, born in 1983
  • Mark Williams, born in 1983
  • James Venziale, born in 1978

If convicted, Young faces a maximum sentence of 104 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Ortiz faces a maximum sentence of 212 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Santiago faces a maximum sentence of 120 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Robert Snyder faces a maximum sentence of 44 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Christal Snyder faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Mark Williams faces a maximum sentence of 84 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; and James Venziale faces a maximum of 80 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years.

The case was investigated by the DEA and the FBI, with the cooperation and assistance of the Philadelphia Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathy A. Stark and Maureen McCartney.

An indictment is an accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

- View press release on fugitive Miguel Santiago

This content has been reproduced from its original source.