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Man Sentenced After Using Own Private Jet To Distribute Pot From Fairfield County, Feds Say

A man from Milford was sentenced for his role in a large-scale marijuana trafficking operation in Connecticut.
A man from Milford was sentenced for his role in a large-scale marijuana trafficking operation in Connecticut. Photo Credit: File

A Connecticut man will spend time behind bars for his role in a large-scale marijuana trafficking conspiracy that saw his co-conspirators making regular flights from Fairfield County to California on a private jet to bring the drugs to the area.

Robert Capelli, 34, of Milford, was sentenced in New Haven to 95 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release after being found guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more or marijuana.

Capelli was found not guilty of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and money laundering.

In addition to his prison term, Capelli was also fined $30,000 and must forfeit $55,000. He remains released on bond and is scheduled to report to prison on Jan. 14 next year.

U.S. Attorney John Durham said that in 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration began investigating a Piper single-engine aircraft, owned by Donald Burns of Milford, that was making regular flights between Stratford, Connecticut, and northern California via the southwest United States.

On June 28, 2017, Burns flew the aircraft from northern California to Lubbock, Texas. The next day, Burns flew the aircraft from Texas to Arkansas, and then to West Virginia and Connecticut, where he landed in the evening at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford.

After it landed, a law enforcement search of the plane revealed approximately 400 pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed packages, and Burns was arrested.  Investigators determined that the marijuana was intended for Capelli, Scott Bodnar, Terrell Givens, and others to distribute in Connecticut.

Durham said the investigation determined that for more than two years, Capelli and the others earned millions of dollars by trafficking nearly two tons of marijuana from California to Connecticut.

In the process, they also laundered more than $6 million to purchase the marijuana, maintain prosperities in Connecticut for distribution and to pay Burns to transport the marijuana.

Bodnar, of Ansonia, Givens, of Beacon Falls, and Burns pleaded guilty to charges similar to Capelli. They also were forced to forfeit multiple vehicles and Burns’ Piper aircraft.

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