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Crime

Buffalo high school teacher pleads guilty to drug trafficking

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Mike Desmond / WBFO News
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U.S. Attorney James Kennedy (r) talks with reporters in August 2019 about Michael Masecchia's arrest..

A Buffalo Public Schools teacher is facing up to life in prison for drug trafficking.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Michael Masecchia, 54, who taught high school at International Prep, has pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of life and a $250,000 fine.

Prosecutors say Masecchia has been selling marijuana in Erie County for at least 10 years, with "grow operations" in Ellicottville and Franklinville in Cattaraugus County.

As part of his written plea agreement, Masecchia admitted that he received sensitive law enforcement information from his co-defendant Joseph Bongiovanni, who worked as a Special Agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Buffalo. That information helped Masecchia avoid prosecution for a decade.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 8, 2021. Charges remain pending against Bongiovanni.

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