A jury Tuesday convicted a Freeport man of more than a dozen felonies for possessing large amounts of heroin, fentanyl and marijuana, along with three guns and nearly a half-million dollars in cash.
The Mineola jury deliberated for less than four hours after a monthlong trial before convicting Tony McClam, 49, of 15 felonies that could put him in prison for nearly four decades.
McClam's drug operation was exposed after firefighters and law enforcement responded to a blaze in McClam's apartment at the Wharfside Condominiums in Freeport.
“This defendant possessed huge quantities of drugs, including heroin and fentanyl, guns and almost a half-million dollars in cash as part of the business of selling poison in our communities,” said Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas. “It took a fire to expose this operation and a jury to hold him responsible for it."
McClam was convicted of two counts of first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; four counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; one count of second-degree criminal possession of marijuana; two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon; three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and three counts of criminal possession of a firearm.
Michael DerGarabedian, McClam's Rockville Centre-based attorney, said his client has maintained his innocence and plans to appeal the verdict.
Prosecutors said Nassau and Freeport police responded to a fire at McClam's Miller Avenue home on Sept. 24, 2016, that investigators later determined originated in the heating and air conditioning system.
A responding officer, who doubles as a volunteer firefighter, was first on the scene and pushed through the apartment's front door but was confronted by McClam who tried to wrestle a fire extinguisher from his hands, prosecutors said. McClam then ran back inside the burning apartment.
McClam was initially questioned by detectives at the scene but fled and was arrested about three weeks later, on Oct. 18, police said.
Once the blaze was extinguished, firefighters found two speakers filled with three guns, more than $446,000 in cash and narcotics with a street value of roughly $407,000, authorities said.
The drugs seized by police included approximately 10 pounds of marijuana, roughly one-and-a-half kilos of a combination of heroin and fentanyl; one kilo of fentanyl and three ounces of heroin, prosecutors said. Police said they also found a money counter, four digital scales, and homemade candles used to conceal the money and drugs.
McClam will be sentenced May 8. He faces a maximum potential prison sentence of 39 years.