When the Piper single-engine aircraft landed at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford in June 2017, authorities were waiting and found 400 pounds of marijuana on the plane, according to federal authorities. They said that was just part of a drug trafficking operation that earned millions of dollars for the people involved.
Federal officials said the marijuana found on that plane was destined for several people to distribute in Connecticut. Now three men have pleaded guilty to being involved in what officials call a large-scale marijuana trafficking ring, according to John Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
His office said 40-year-old Scott Bodnar, of Ansonia, 34-year-old Terrell Givens, of Beacon Falls, and 60-year-old Donald Burns, of Milford, have pleaded guilty to federal offenses.
It was 2016 when the Federal Aviation Administration began investigating Burns’ plane, which was making regular flights between Stratford, Connecticut, and northern California via the southwest United States according to federal authorities.
The drug seizure happened after Burns flew from northern California to Lubbock, Texas on June 28, 2017 and the next day flew from Texas to Arkansas, and then to West Virginia and Connecticut, according to federal authorities. When the plane landed at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford, investigators found around 400 pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed packages, federal officials said. They said the drugs were intended for Bodnar, Givens and others to distribute in Connecticut.
Investigators determined that the people involved in the ring had earned millions of dollars by trafficking nearly two tons of marijuana from California to Connecticut over two years, according to a news release from Durham’s office.
Authorities said Bodnar, Givens and others also laundered around $6 million to buy marijuana in California, pay for their travel to and from California and to pay Burns to transport the marijuana.
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.
On May 6, Burns pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
The three defendants agreed to forfeit cash as well as Burns’ Piper aircraft, a 2012 Toyota Camry belonging to Bodnar, a 2009 Jaguar XF and approximately $8,000 in jewelry belonging to Givens.