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Buffalo man facing more than 20 charges including drug, gun and COVID fraud charges

Posted at 10:53 AM, Mar 04, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The U.S. Attorney's Office announced a federal grand jury has returned two separate indictments against a Buffalo man.

48-year-old Joseph Bella faces 25 charges in the two separate indictments.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office a search warrant was executed at Bella's Summer Street home in Buffalo and the following was allegedly seized: a quantity of cocaine, plastic bags, a digital scale; a shotgun and numerous rounds of ammunition; THC gummies, lollipops, and other THC edibles; marijuana cigarettes and loose marijuana; THC vape cartridges; suspected Psilocybin mushrooms; a small quantity of MDMA; various pills; and THC resin.

Officials say Bella also allegedly defrauded a Salt Lake City, Utah, corporation that developed and manufactured COVID-19 test kits. Bella allegedly falsely represented that his company, Medcor Staffing, Inc., was laboratory certified to perform to perform high-complexity molecular testing, that Medcor was an “end-user” of the tests, and that Medcor would not attempt to resell them.

The Salt Lake City corporation sold Bella 5,000 COVID-19 tests, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Bella allegedly advertised on his Facebook in March 2020 that he was selling “FDA approved COVID-19 Test Kits.”

Officials say in April 2020 Bella allegedly communicated with an undercover federal agent that he had 50,000 COVID-19 tests and Medcor was an “exclusive licensed reseller," he allegedly attempted to sell the tests to the agent for $30 per test or more after buying them for $8 per test.

Bella is also accused of fraudulently obtaining a loan from the Small Business Association under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.

A superseding indictment charges Bella with possessing with intent to distribute, and distributing cocaine; maintaining a drug involved premises; possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm; and threatening to injure a person through interstate communications. The charges carry a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and maximum of life as well as a $1 million fine.

The second indictment charges Bella with committing wire and mail fraud, money laundering, and making false statements on a loan application. These charges carry a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Bella has been under home confinement since May 2020, following his arraignment on these two indictments his release was revoked and was ordered detained pending trial.

“The common thread running through the allegation in these two indictments is defendant’s willingness to do anything to make a buck, even if it means jeopardizing the health and safety of others,” said U.S. Attorney James Kennedy.