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Southampton plaintiff guilty in drug case

A man who sued Southampton Town and several police officers for allegedly targeting him for dating a detective's daughter has pleaded guilty in a federal drug case to illegally distributing painkillers, according to court papers and his lawyer.

Craig Chillemi, who was twice arrested in Southampton on drug possession charges and sentenced to 4 years in prison after a guilty plea in 2007, was arrested in April along with three others in connection with the alleged oxycodone sales network, federal prosecutors said.

Chillemi pleaded not guilty to the federal conspiracy charges but changed his plea to guilty on Monday in the hope that a dismissal of the Southampton charges would lower a possible federal sentence, said his lawyer, Neil Bruce Checkman, of Manhattan.

The federal indictment seeks forfeiture of some $825,000 in illegal drug proceeds.

According to court papers, Chillemi possessed "stolen prescription paper and computer software to print counterfeit prescriptions." An unnamed witness told agents that Chillemi and another person "paid individuals to pass the prescriptions at pharmacies and distributed the pills as far away from New York City as possible."

The prescription drug network, centered in Chillemi's Queens apartment, allegedly trafficked 1,000 oxycodone pills a day, the complaint said.

Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch of the Eastern District, said Chillemi faces up to 30 years in prison on the conspiracy charge.

Chillemi, in a $1 million lawsuit filed last week, said he was arrested and sent to prison as part of a police "vendetta" because he was dating the daughter of a detective in the Southampton Town Police Department. He also alleged that a suspended Southampton officer planted drugs on him in a 2009 arrest that sent him back to prison.Chillemi, 36, formerly of Manorville, has been held in a Queens detention center since April.

Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota is investigating more than 100 arrests made by the disbanded Southampton police street crimes unit, and in May vacated the drug-sale convictions of two men because of questions about the credibility of the arresting officer. Spota spokesman Robert Clifford declined to comment on the Chillemi case, saying only, "The investigation is ongoing." Jeltje deJong, an attorney representing the town, did not respond to requests for comment.

Checkman said he wrote a letter to the Suffolk district attorney's office asking prosecutors "specifically to investigate the circumstances" of Chillemi's prior arrests given the suspension and pending disciplinary charges against two town police officials. If the prior arrests "were overturned, he [Chillemi] would be in a better position--he'd have a lower criminal history category," Checkman said.

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