Three Men Involved in Large-Scale Marijuana Trafficking Operation Plead Guilty
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that SCOTT BODNAR, also known as “Pep,” 40, of Ansonia, TERRELL GIVENS, 34, of Beacon Falls, and DONALD BURNS, 61, of Milford, have pleaded guilty to federal offenses related to their 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 Burns, that was making regular flights between Stratford, Connecticut, 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. Investigators determined that the marijuana was intended for Bodnar, Givens and others to distribute in Connecticut.
The investigation revealed that, over a period of approximately two years, members of the conspiracy earned millions of dollars by trafficking nearly two tons of marijuana from California to Connecticut. Bodnar, Givens and others also laundered approximately $6 million to purchase marijuana in California, pay for their travel to and from California, and pay Burns to transport the marijuana.
On May 2, 2019, 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. Today, Burns pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. At sentencing, each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of life.
In pleading guilty, the defendants agreed to the forfeiture of cash and various 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.
This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and the Stratford, Bridgeport and Derby Police Departments.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale and Marc Silverman.