Three men have admitted to their roles in an elaborate, bi-coastal, multi-million dollar marijuana trafficking operation that flooded Connecticut with nearly two tons of the drug.
Scott “Pep” Bodnar, of Ansonia, Terrell Givens, of Beacon Falls, and Donald Burns, of Milford, have pleaded guilty to federal offenses in connection to a large-scale marijuana trafficking conspiracy, U.S. Attorney John Durham announced this week.
In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into a single-engine aircraft, owned by Burns, that made regular flights from Stratford to northern California via the southwest part of the country.
On June 28, 2017, Burns flew his plane from northern California to Lubbock, Texas. The following day he flew from Texas to Arkansas, and then to West Virginia and back to Connecticut. When he landed at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford, law enforcement investigators searched the plane and found 400 pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed packages.
Durham said that investigators determined that the marijuana was intended for Bodnar, Givens, and others to distribute throughout Connecticut.
The investigation found that over the course of approximately two years, the suspects earned millions of dollars by trafficking nearly two tons of marijuana from California to Connecticut, Durham said. In total, Bodnar, Givens and others also laundered approximately $6 million to purchase marijuana, pay for their travel from coast-to-coast, and pay Burns to transport the pot.
On May 2, Bodnar pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Givens pleaded guilty to the same charges on May 3. This week, Burns pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
As part of their guilty pleas, the three men agreed to forfeit cash and other items, including Burns’ Piper aircraft, a 2012 Toyota Camry belonging to Bodnar, and a 2009 Jaguar XF and approximately $8,000 in jewelry belonging to Givens. When they are sentenced, each man will face a maximum term of life in prison.
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