Beacon Falls man involved in marijuana trafficking ring sentenced to 55 months in federal prison
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – DEA New England Division Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle and United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut John H. Durham announced that Terrell Givens, 34, of Beacon Falls, Conn., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to 55 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his involvement in a large-scale marijuana trafficking conspiracy.
According to court documents and statements made in court, 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, Conn., 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 the marijuana was intended for Robert Capelli, Scott Bodnar, Terrell Givens and others to distribute in Connecticut.
The investigation revealed that, for more than two years, Capelli and his associates earned millions of dollars by trafficking nearly two tons of marijuana from California to Connecticut. Members of the conspiracy also laundered more than $6 million to purchase marijuana in California, maintain properties for distribution in Connecticut, pay Burns to transport the marijuana, and for other expenses related to the conspiracy.
Givens was arrested June 12, 2018. On May 3, 2019, he 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. Judge Arterton also ordered Givens to forfeit his 2009 Jaguar XF and jewelry valued at approximately $8,000, which were seized during the investigation. Givens, who is released on a $300,000 bond, is required to report to prison on Oct. 23, 2019.
On May 2, 2019, Bodnar, of Ansonia, 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. On Sept. 4, 2019, he was sentenced to 55 months of imprisonment and ordered to forfeit his 2012 Toyota Camry.
On July 26, 2019, a jury found Capelli, of Milford, guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, and one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. He was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and one count of money laundering. Capelli has forfeited approximately $90,000 to date, and additional forfeiture proceedings are pending.
On May 6, 2019, Burns, of Milford, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. He also has agreed to forfeit the Piper aircraft.
Capelli and Burns are await sentencing.
This matter has been investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Haven Task Force, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP), the Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations Center, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Stratford, Derby and West Haven Police Departments, and the Second Judicial Drug Task Force in Jonesboro, Arkansas.