FBI agent shot during roundup of drug dealers, ex-NBA player

Published 4:21 am Friday, February 27, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. — An FBI agent was shot and wounded Thursday morning during a roundup of suspects in an alleged cocaine distribution ring, a Buffalo-area sweep that also led to the arrest of a former NBA player in Nevada.

Laurie Bennett, special agent in charge of Buffalo’s FBI office, said the agent was in stable condition after being shot while executing a search warrant at a house in Buffalo.

Bennett did not identify the agent and did not comment on local media reports that another agent fired the shot. At a news conference, she declined to discuss details of the shooting and said an internal investigation would take several weeks.

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Bennett says the shooting happened after a suspect was arrested at the house.

The agent was among law-enforcement officers who rounded up 31 people who were charged with participating in a violent, gang-run cocaine distribution ring that has been linked to at least one killing. Three other suspects arranged to surrender, Bennett said.

Authorities raided 11 homes in Buffalo and surrounding suburbs, but also arrested Buffalo native and former NBA player Damone Brown in Reno, Nev.

Brown, 29, is accused of leasing a safe deposit box at Citizens Bank in Buffalo that was used by a drug kingpin to store proceeds. He faces a felony count of money laundering. Authorities seized $170,000 from the box before Brown was arrested in Reno Thursday morning.

Brown plays for the Reno Bighorns in the NBA Developmental League. He played basketball at Syracuse University before being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 2001 NBA draft, and also played in the NBA with New Jersey, Toronto, Washington and Indiana.

In U.S. District Court in Reno on Thursday afternoon, Brown was ordered released on his own recognizance pending a March 11 preliminary hearing in Buffalo.

Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada, said Brown was scheduled to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in Reno Thursday afternoon.