BOSTON, MA. – Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that GARY EICHENSEHR, 29, of Seymour, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 24 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to structure cash proceeds of a marijuana growing and distribution operation.
Federal law requires all financial institutions to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) for currency transactions that exceed $10,000. To evade the filing of a CTR, individuals will often structure their currency transactions so that no single transaction exceeds $10,000. Structuring involves the repeated depositing or withdrawal of amounts of cash less than the $10,000 limit, or the splitting of a cash transaction that exceeds $10,000 into smaller cash transactions in an effort to avoid the reporting requirements. Even if the deposited funds are derived from a legitimate means, financial transactions conducted in this manner are still in violation of federal criminal law.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between March 2008 and January 2010, Cheyne Mazza of Oxford led a conspiracy that included his sister, Sterling Mazza of Oxford, Joseph Cassetti of Ansonia, and James Canavan of Ansonia, to manufacture and distribute large quantities of marijuana. Much of the marijuana was grown at properties owned by Cassetti located at 72 Root Avenue and 63 Root Avenue in Ansonia, as well as at 21 Pawnee Road in Oxford, a Cassetti family property that had been rented to Cheyne Mazza. In November 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration and local police executed state search and seizure warrants at these properties and seized more than 1400 marijuana plants and equipment used to grow and process marijuana.
Between October 28, 2009 to November 23, 2009, one or more of the co-conspirators made several cash deposits at various JP Morgan Chase Bank branches into an account held in EICHENSEHR’s name. The deposits, none of which exceeded $10,000, totaled $103,520.
EICHENSEHR has been detained since his arrest on June 9, 2010. On September 9, 2010, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to structure financial transactions with a domestic financial institution.
Cheyne Mazza, Sterling Mazza, Cassetti and Canavan have each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute 1000 or more marijuana plants. A sixth defendant, Philip Negron of Derby, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to structure financial transactions. All await sentencing.
In association with the prosecution of this matter, the government is seeking the forfeiture of real properties and vehicles owned by the participants, as well as cash seized during the investigation.
This case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Haven Task Force, notably the Ansonia Police Department. The Task Force also includes participants from the New Haven, Meriden, Hamden, West Haven and Branford Police Departments.