No prison time for former New London restaurant owner in drug and money laundering case

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Oct. 24—A federal judge on Tuesday declined to impose a prison sentence on former New London restaurant owner Amy Sarcia, who was convicted of playing a crucial role in a sprawling southeastern Connecticut drug-trafficking ring.

U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden ordered Stonington resident Sarcia, 54, to serve three years of probation and pay a $7,500 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Prosecutors said Sarcia, who owned 2Wives Brick Oven Pizza on Huntington Street in New London and No Anchor Fine Food & Provisions in Noank, accepted money from the sale of the drugs from co-conspirator Anthony Whyte of New London.

In exchange, Sarcia provided Whyte with quarterly paychecks from the pizzeria and a federal W-2 tax form as part of a scheme to make it look like the drug proceeds were restaurant pay.

Sarcia and Whyte were convicted by a federal jury in September 2021 of committing numerous narcotics trafficking, money laundering. Whyte was also convicted of firearm offenses.

At the time of their trial, 25 other individuals had been found guilty for their roles in receiving large quantities of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine from Whyte and selling them in the region.

In addition to the bogus work payments, authorities said Sarcia accepted cash from Whyte in exchange for letting him use three apartments she managed that were connected to the restaurant and jut out into Washington Street for the storage and distribution of narcotics.

In an Aug. 31 government sentencing memorandum in which prosecutors pushed for a 63- to 78-month prison sentence, U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Avery described Sarcia as a willing participant in the drug sales.

“Through her actions, she helped push poison into our community and helped further the horrible cycle of crime, violence, addiction and suffering at the center of drug abuse,” the memo states.

Avery said Sarcia not only gave Whyte secure stash houses, but also “provided legitimacy through the one thing most drug dealers lack ― a paycheck.”

“Whyte, an armed drug dealer dealing deadly substances, could not have committed his crimes without her,” Avery wrote.

The sentencing memorandum also states that Sarcia and Whyte were involved in a intimate relationship. She told authorities the payroll checks to Whyte were at least partly meant to compensate him for his work as promoter of her restaurant.

Whyte faces between 15 years and life in prison when sentenced on Dec. 12.

Last year, Sarcia rejected an offer to plead guilty to the money laundering charge and agree to a prison sentence of 46 to 57 months.

In his pre-sentencing memorandum, Sarcia’s lawyer, Richard R. Brown, requested Bolden impose a period of home confinement and community service on his client, a much less severe sentence than the 15 to 20 months laid out in sentencing guidelines.

Brown cited Sarcia’s community volunteer efforts, work ethic and remorse in his argument for no prison time. He said his client “rues the day” she became entangled with Whyte.

“She is ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated over her conduct,” Brown wrote. “In sum, she has done what society wants all convicted individuals to do; stay out of further troubles, deals with any substance abuse issues, and work hard to support one’s self and contribute to society.”

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