New London man en route to Louisiana to face drug charges

New London resident Joseph Ellis, charged with running a credit card scam in southeastern Connecticut that netted more than $362,000, is on his way to Louisiana to face drug trafficking charges, according to court officials.

Connecticut state police in March arrested Ellis, 44, and nine others, including his daughter, Shauntay Ellis, in connection with a scam that detectives said involved using counterfeit Discover credit cards to obtain cash advances, gift cards and merchandise from local businesses.

Ellis posted a $250,000 bond in the case and was making regular court appearances in New London as his attorney, Thomas Teixeira, tried to work out a resolution of the case with prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla.

Ellis had been arrested during a 2009 traffic stop in Louisiana with 700 grams of cocaine that he had purchased in Texas, according to authorities. He posted bond and returned to Connecticut. He was acquitted of federal drug trafficking charges in 2010, but Louisiana state authorities said they would prosecute him locally.

New London officials were aware that Ellis was wanted in Louisiana, but were hesitant to extradite him since he faced serious charges here. But Ellis, free on a $250,000 bond, traveled to Salisbury, N.C., and on Sept. 28 was picked up by authorities there and held as a fugitive from justice from a Louisiana parish. He is being transported to Louisiana, where New London State's Attorney Michael L. Regan said he could face a 10- to 15-year prison sentence.

Since Ellis was believed to be the ringleader in the credit card scam, the cases of the other defendants were on hold until his case was resolved. Now that he is expected to be out of state for some time, the other cases will move forward. Also, Judge Susan B. Handy said she would consider a request to release the $250,000 surety bond once she learns more about the Louisiana case.

k.florin@theday.com

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