SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — About 30 miles outside the city, a machinist who lived on a farm wanted to make inroads with Schenectady’s gang community by supplying it with an arsenal of high-powered firearms that are usually depicted in movies, the head of a county Sheriff’s Department unit told County legislators this week.
Michael Castelluccio, 43, of Fultonville, started a “ghost gun” manufacturing business by obtaining gun parts he ordered from around the country to make an untraceable supply of weaponry.
Castelluccio wanted to arm city gang members with fully automatic sound-suppressed machine guns, said Christopher Foster, an inspector with the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department’s narcotics unit.
“If anybody’s got something scarier than that, I’m all ears,” Foster said.
Castelluccio’s plan was foiled because he asked someone with whom he had served federal time to introduce him to Schenectady gang members.
His former prison mate turned out to be an informant for the Sheriff’s Department, which conducted a series of controlled buys from Castelluccio, who was sentenced last month to 30 months for unlawfully selling ghost guns, according to the Northern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Foster showed the lawmakers photos of some of what the agency purchased from Castelluccio, including a factory machine silencer or sound suppressor.
“Nobody in my office has ever seen a silencer in the field, ever,” Foster said.
After that buy, Foster said he contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who deemed Castelluccio an appropriate federal target for gun manufacturing, and the two agencies worked in coordination.
“Those are five fully automatic M-16 machine guns,” Foster said of another set of photos. “They are totally untraceable. There are no serial numbers to be found or no identifying marks. Those guns do not exist.”
As its name would suggest, the narcotics unit’s focus is on the “scourge” of heroin that is “ruining communities” and “killing people,” Foster said.
But its investigations have also led to seizures of guns and money.
In Foster’s time leading the narcotics unit since 2016, it has recovered, seized or purchased 22 handguns, of which two had been reported stolen and five were ghost guns, 13 assault rifles of which 10 had been reported stolen, 15 fully automatic machine gun assault rifles that were ghost guns, four shotguns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, 30 magazines, four silencer/suppressors and a bulletproof vest.
It’s also seized more than $300,000, mostly from search warrants in connection to narcotics investigations.
Sheriff Dominic Dagostino said he couldn’t overstate the narcotics unit’s level of expertise and motivation.
“It’s not a very big one,” Dagostino said. “But as Chris said, there’s over 100 years of combined experience in that unit, and these guys are top-notch.”