Prosecutors: Onetime major crack cocaine dealer sentenced

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A man described by federal prosecutors as a onetime major crack cocaine dealer in Hempstead, supplying street gangs and others, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Monday, officials said.

Michael Watson, 41, had a lengthy history of drug dealing over 20 years, including almost a dozen convictions for narcotics offenses and, in one instance, a conviction for assaulting a police officer, according to court papers filed by Eastern District federal prosecutor John Durham.

When Watson was initially arrested by FBI agents in 2010 as part of a street gang investigation by the Bureau's Long Island gang task force, he had a duffel bag in his house containing $70,000 in cash, and a search of his bank safety deposit box turned up another $90,000 in cash, Durham wrote.

"He was one of the people responsible for flooding our neighborhoods with crack cocaine," Durham wrote. Durham said Watson would buy cocaine from dealers in Atlanta and Washington Heights, and convert it into crack. Many of his customers were members of the Bloods and Crips street gangs, officials said.

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Watson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement.

But Watson asked for a lesser sentence, admitting that "I have made a lot of bad choices" but said he had finally realized that "I know I've done wrong," and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with his 19-year-old daughter.

In court papers, Watson's attorney, Joseph Conway, of Mineola, said that his client was a loving father who had always cared for the daughter, who was born with cerebral palsy.

In imposing sentence, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco said he was moved by a letter Watson's daughter had sent to him asking for a more lenient prison term. But the judge said he had to balance that against the harm that her father had done in dealing drugs.

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