New Castle News

May 15, 2013

Three city residents admit to drug ring role

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Nearly two years ago, eight people accused in an oxycodone ring with New Castle ties were arrested.

This week, three of them pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal drug laws.

U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said Thomas Klingensmith Sr., 58, of 607 Spruce St., Bobbi Jo Klingensmith, 35, of 826 Croton Ave., and Shannon Viggiano, 34, of 414 Pine St., pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

In connection with the guilty pleas, the court was advised that between September 2008 and June 2011, a family-based drug ring operated in the New Castle area selling highly addictive narcotic pills containing oxycodone.

Larry Dorsey, a former New Castle resident living in Florida, was the alleged supplier of nearly 50,000 pills to Christopher Klingensmith and the others charged in this indictment.

Christopher Klingensmith, described by prosecutors as kingpin of the group, has a history of felony convictions, most of them drug-related, according to information provided at the time of his arrest in July 2011.

New Castle police, in conjunction with the Lawrence County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents, arrested the eight family members and associates on a federal grand jury indictment.

Christopher Klingensmith had been a co-owner of DeRosa’s Italian Bakery on the city’s East Side.

Thomas Klingensmith Sr. is Christopher Klingensmith’s father. Bobbi Jo Klingensmith is Christopher’s sister, and Shannon Viggiano has a child with Christopher, according to court records. All were accused of selling oxycodone in New Castle and Lawrence County.

In September 2010, co-defendant David Wooley was stopped by police in North Carolina, on his way to Florida. A search of his car allegedly turned up $158,409 hidden inside a door. Prosecutors said evidence showed the oxycodone purchased for $14 a pill in Florida was being resold in New Castle for up to $25 a pill.

Approximately half a million dollars was seized in this investigation.

Schwab has scheduled sentencing for 9:30 a.m. Sept. 6 for Thomas Klingensmith Sr.; 9 a.m. Sept. 17 for Bobbi Jo Klingensmith, and 8:30 a.m. Nov. 18 for Shannon Viggiano.

The law provides for a total sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or both. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based on the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Nescott is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The DEA, New Castle police and the state police conducted the investigation that led to their prosecution.