COLLINS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Two men are facing multiple felony charges after an unauthorized vehicle investigation uncovered multiple drugs and drug paraphernalia, according to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

At approximately 9:15 p.m. on Feb. 18, deputies say they responded to a complaint of someone taking a vehicle without permission. While on patrol, deputies say they observed a vehicle on North Division Road operating without lights.

According to deputies, the driver and passenger of the vehicle exited and fled on foot when deputies attempted to perform a traffic stop.

Police say multiple units responded to the area with assistance from Air-1 and coordinated a search. Air-1 located a subject in a dark, wooded area and deputies were directed to the location.

Police say 33-year-old Jonathan Rusnell, of Collins, was taken into custody and stated that 23-year-old Joseph Laforme of Gowanda, was the passenger.

Following an investigation, deputies say they determined that the alleged driver, Rusnell, did not have a valid New York State driver’s license and had an active warrant from the Town of Cheektowaga Court.

Seneca Nation of Indian Marshals later spotted Laforme walking along Richardson Road and radioed his position to the Sheriff’s Office, according to deputies.

Deputies and NYS Troopers established a perimeter and, once again, Air-1 located the subject’s location in some bushes near a residence and Laforme was taken into custody, according to deputies.

Following a search of the vehicle, numerous heroin/fentanyl packages, a quantity of methamphetamine, and various drug paraphernalia were discovered.

Laforme was arrested and charged with the following:

  • Criminal possession of a narcotic with the intent to sell
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance — meth with the intent to sell
  • Attempting to conceal/alter/destroy physical evidence
  • Resisting arrest
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance
  • Obstructing governmental administration
  • Criminal use of drug paraphernalia

Rusnell was arrested and charged with the following:

  • Criminal possession of a narcotic with the intent to sell
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance — meth with the intent to sell
  • Attempting to conceal/alter/destroy physical evidence
  • Resisting arrest
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance
  • Obstructing governmental administration
  • Criminal use of drug paraphernalia
  • Two separate vehicle and traffic law violations

Laforme was arraigned and released while Rusnell is held at the Erie County Holding Center pending further court proceedings.

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Emily Miller is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2022. See more of her work here.