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Former New London restaurant owner rejects plea offer in federal drug-trafficking case

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The former co-owner of a downtown New London pizzeria has rejected an offer from a federal prosecutor to plead guilty and go to prison for up to 57 months on charges she was involved in a regional drug-trafficking enterprise.

Amy Sarcia, 51, of Stonington, risks a mandatory, five-year minimum prison sentence and up to 40 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

Sarcia turned down a plea offer from Assistant U.S. Attorney Natasha Freismuth during a Zoom video conference Monday with U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Spector. She and her attorney, Richard R. Brown, sat together at a conference room table, wearing face masks. She answered a series of questions posed by the judge to ensure she understood the proceeding and her options, which were to accept the plea offer, plead guilty without an agreement in place or go to trial.

Freismuth said if Sarcia accepted the offer to plead guilty to the money laundering charge, the government would dismiss the drug charge, which carries the five-year mandatory prison sentence, and agree to a prison sentence of 46 to 57 months, along with a term of probation and a fine, under federal sentencing guidelines. Judges are not bound by the guidelines, but often adhere to them.

Sarcia and Anthony Whyte were among 26 New London-area residents indicted in March 2019 in a wide-ranging narcotics and money laundering investigation conducted by federal, state and local agencies. The government alleges that Whyte, of New London, obtained heroin, fentanyl and cocaine from Connecticut and beyond and distributed the drugs to others charged in connection with the trafficking ring who then allegedly sold the drugs to customers and street-level drug dealers.

Several of the conspirators have pleaded guilty, but the remaining co-defendants, including Whyte and Sarcia, are scheduled to go on trial later this fall. Jury selection is scheduled for Nov. 17 in U.S. District Court in Hartford.

Freismuth said because of Sarcia's leadership role in the drug-trafficking enterprise, the government believes she would be ineligible for a waiver of the mandatory minimum prison sentence under a "safety valve" provision for non-violent drug offenders with little or no criminal history. Sarcia's attorney said he thinks she may be eligible.

The judge told Sarcia she has until Friday at 5 p.m. to change her mind, at which time the government would rescind the offer.

As of earlier this summer, Sarcia is no longer associated with 2 Wives, according to former co-owner Edward DeMuzzio, who said his daughters Kelly Ainscough and Kristin DeMuzzio are now the majority owners and are taking over the business. Sarcia is also no longer associated with the adjacent apartment building, which is owned by a corporation and rents the restaurant space to 2 Wives.

DeMuzzio said by phone that has his attorney has advised him that 2Wives has no liability in connection with the allegations against Sarcia.

Sarcia had also owned another business, No Anchor Fine Food & Provisions in Noank, which has closed.

k.florin@theday.com

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