Carl Heastie’s chief of staff lived ‘extravagant’ lifestyle with drug money: prosecutors

Jevonni Brooks-Dennis' husband Orlando Dennis is charged with drug trafficking charges for allegedly transporting cocaine.

Jevonni Brooks-Dennis, the chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie is accused of funding a lavish lifestyle with money obtained from drug trafficking.

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According to US News, Orlando Dennis, Jevonni’s husband, was arrested in January after returning to the U.S. from a trip to Jamaica. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a $150,000 bond. A Homeland Security said he was linked to an abandoned bag containing three kilograms of cocaine.

Cell phone evidence linked him to one of two suspects awaiting sentencing. Agents searched Dennis’s phone and found a photo of the bag and messages exchange with other defendants.

US News reported that according to the complaint Dennis “admitted knowing that the bag was involved in some kind of illegality” but “denied knowing that the bag contained drugs.”

While his wife is not implicated on the criminal charges, Times Union reported her salary could not account for the couple’s spending habits. According to the report, from 2015 and 2019, Dennis made more than 630 cash deposits totaling more than $600,000 into his bank accounts while employed as a $25,000-a-year delivery drive with take-home pay of $10,000 due to child support.

Mike Whyland, a spokesman for Heastie, said to Times Union that Brooks-Dennis’ remains the speaker’s chief of staff. Still, according to court filings, she also made deposits of the unaccounted for monies and used the wealth on fashion and beauty.

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“For instance, from June 2018 through December 2019, the defendant spent more than $12,000 at Christian Louboutin, more than $1,500 at Gucci, more than $1,300 at Burberry, and more than $1,000 each at Louis Vuitton, Moschino, and Prada,” the U.S. attorney’s office wrote in a pre-trial motion filed Monday according to the report. “The defendant’s wife’s records for 2018 to 2020 include four transactions totaling nearly $7,000 at Christian Louboutin and nearly $9,000 in hair extensions in a single year.”

According to the New York Post, the couple showed off their purchases on Instagram.

“In several photographs, the defendant is depicted lifting his foot to display the signature red sole commonly associated with luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin,” wrote Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Siegel the outlet reported.

One of Dennis’ alleged conspirators Ryan Smalling worked at the airport for Swissport cargo and missed the bag, which contained the cocaine valued at $100,000. Dennis reportedly accused Smalling of stealing the drugs to which he responded via text “If them kill me them kill but I don’t have yall things,” according to the New York Post.

Smalling and another co-conspirator baggage handler William Brown, pleaded guilty to drug importation.

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