Four Valley Residents Charged with Conspiring to
MAR 12 - Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport has returned an indictment charging CHEYNE MAZZA, 28, and his sister, STERLING MAZZA, 24, both of Wedge Hill Road, Oxford; JAMES CANAVAN, 25, of Highland Avenue, Ansonia, and JOSEPH CASSETTI, 60, of Root Avenue, Ansonia, with conspiring to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute one thousand or more marijuana plants. The Indictment was returned on March 2 and unsealed today following the defendants’ arrests and subsequent appearance this morning in United States District Court in Hartford.
According to allegations made in previously filed court documents and statements made during today’s court proceedings, on November 21, 2008, the Ansonia Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration executed search warrants at properties owned by CASSETTI located at 72 Root Avenue and 63 Root Avenue in Ansonia. The search of 72 Root Avenue revealed 656 marijuana plants at various stages of growth, and numerous horticultural items and equipment used to raise and maintain the marijuana plants. CASSETTI and CHEYNE MAZZA were discovered at 72 Root Avenue exiting the indoor marijuana grow. The search of 63 Root Avenue revealed 318 marijuana plants in a third floor apartment that had been rented to CANAVAN and STERLING MAZZA.
On November 23, 2008, law enforcement executed another search warrant at 21 Pawnee Road in Oxford, a CASSETTI family property that had been rented to CHEYNE MAZZA, and discovered an additional 487 marijuana plants in various stages of growth. The search also revealed fans, a dehumidifier, timers, grow lights and bulbs, and various plant growing materials.
A total of 1477 marijuana plants were seized as a result of the execution of the search warrants at these locations.
Each of the four defendants appeared today before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford and pleaded not guilty to the charge. Following the court proceeding, STERLING MAZZA, CANAVAN and CASSETTI were released on bonds cosigned by family members. CHEYNE MAZZA currently is detained in state custody.
If convicted of the charge in the indictment, the defendants face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life, and a fine of up to $4 million.
The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of the properties located at 72 and 63 Root Avenue.
U.S. Attorney Dannehy stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which it is the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Ansonia Police Department.