Member of Marijuana Conspiracy Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison on Drug and Gun Charges
Fled to California After 2010 Arrest in Baltimore
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced Joseph Jesus Guadagnoli, age 33, of Baltimore, Maryland, on December 5, 2014, to 15 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute between 1,000 and 4,000 kilograms of marijuana, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Judge Titus ordered Guadagnoli to forfeit $6,000 in postal money orders and four guns and ammunition seized from his home, and ordered him to pay a money judgment in the amount of $2,370,000, the value of the property derived from or otherwise involved in the marijuana conspiracy.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; U.S. Marshal Johnny Hughes; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Commissioner Anthony W. Batts of the Baltimore Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, from at least 2008, until September 27, 2012, Guadagnoli conspired with Andrew Sharpeta, and others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Initially, Guadagnoli participated in the conspiracy by unloading shipments of marijuana at various warehouses throughout Baltimore, leasing a warehouse for this purpose, and distributing the bulk marijuana. Guadagnoli also transported marijuana to various locations in the eastern United States.
On March 18, 2009, DEA agents executed a search warrant at 3522 Hickory Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland, which was owned, leased, and utilized by members of the conspiracy, and which served as one center of operations for the narcotics trafficking organization. The items seized from the residence included more than 100 pounds of marijuana, $20,000 in cash, 31 cellular telephones, documents regarding the purchase of a Lancair IV-P aircraft for $450,000 by a co-conspirator, four money counters, tally sheets with balances over $1.5 million, and false identification documents. On the day the search warrant was executed, a member of the conspiracy came to the home of Guadagnoli and his then-girlfriend (now wife) Megan Veitch and asked them to go to the Hickory Avenue address to retrieve an airplane seat which had been removed from a plane that was being used to transport money and marijuana. Guadagnoli and Veitch went to the Hickory Avenue address and removed the airplane seat as well as some of the furniture.
On October 4, 2010, members of the Baltimore County Police Department executed a search warrant at a warehouse which had been leased by Guadagnoli. Guadagnoli and Veitch were arrested leaving the warehouse. Inside the warehouse, officers recovered approximately 600 pounds of marijuana in shipping containers which had been sent by a co-conspirator. Officers also discovered a sophisticated marijuana grow operation that involved over 400 marijuana plants.
After making bond, Guadagnoli and Veitch fled to California, where a co-conspirator assisted them in obtaining California driver’s licenses in false names to conceal their identities. Guadagnoli purchased a rural house in Mendocino, California, where he oversaw the cultivation of marijuana on the surrounding property. On September 27, 2012, Veitch and Guadagnoli were arrested on the Mendocino property. A search warrant was executed, and members of law enforcement recovered hundreds of marijuana plants and paraphernalia associated with the cultivation and harvesting of marijuana. In addition, from Guadagnoli’s home officers seized postal money orders totaling $6,000.00, a 9mm Ruger pistol, a Smith & Wesson A&P 15 semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle, a Marlin .22 caliber rifle, a Remington Arms Co. 12 gauge shotgun, a box of 9mm ammunition, a box of .22 caliber ammunition, marijuana, jars with concentrated cannabis, digital scales, five cellular telephones, a money counting machine and other drug paraphernalia.
Megan Veitch, age 32, of Baltimore and Andrew Sharpeta, age 39, of Avondale, Pennsylvania, previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 34 months and 63 months in prison, respectively
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the DEA, Montgomery County Police Department, Baltimore County Police Department, and Baltimore City Police Department for their work in the investigation, and thanked the Mendocino County, California Sheriff’s Office for its assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah A. Johnston and Mara Zusman Greenberg, who prosecuted the case.