Feds Share $8.9 Million With Local Law Enforcement Agencies
Forfeited Assets from 2009 drug case distributed to 33 law enforcement agencies
ALBANY, NEW YORK – United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announced today the distribution of $12,515,738 which represented the proceeds of assets seized in a marijuana distribution conspiracy. Of the total assets, $8,923,708.19 have been distributed to thirty-three law enforcement agencies in the Capitol District area and as far away as Illinois and California. Joining in the announcement was Wilbert L. Plummer, Associate Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division, of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and James R. Burns, Jr., Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Albany District Office, of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The remaining $3,592,029.81 went to the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program. The primary mission of the Program is to employ asset forfeiture powers in a manner that enhances public safety and security. Asset forfeiture laws are intended to enable law enforcement agencies to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations and deprive them of their illegal profits.
U.S. Attorney Hartunian stated, “What started as a simple traffic stop in Illinois turned into a well-orchestrated, multi-state effort involving the collaboration of many agencies resulting in the sentencing of five drug traffickers and forfeiture of millions of dollars of assets. By attacking large scale drug trafficking organizations and stripping them of their ill-gotten profits, we make a hard-hitting impact, stopping the distribution of drugs and ensuring the safety of our communities. We are pleased to use our federal resources to provide these forfeited assets to our partner agencies.”
DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated, “Canori reaped millions from the illicit sale of marijuana in the Albany area contributing to drug abuse and drug addiction. Due to law enforcement’s cooperation, those millions will now be used to stop drug trafficking, curb drug abuse and support law enforcement’s ongoing efforts to keep our cities safe and secure.”
The case started on June 13, 2009 when Illinois State Police found approximately 334 pounds of marijuana hidden in a car trailer during a routine traffic stop. The drugs were intended to be transported from California to upstate New York for distribution. Through a controlled delivery executed with the Albany DEA Office, the delivery was completed, resulting in the arrest of three co-conspirators, Melissa Giove, Eric Canori and Robert Reinfurt, and eventually two others, Pamela Grosch and Sara Shafer. All five were later convicted in U.S. District Court for drug offenses.
At the time of his arrest, $1,473,543 in cash was seized from Eric Canori’s Wilton residence, along with approximately 40 pounds of marijuana. A subsequent search of a home in Ross, CA, rented by Canori, resulted in the seizure of an additional $688,660. Law enforcement agents were later provided with the locations of buried gold and silver bars and coins. 172 gold bars, 161 gold coins and a one hundred ounce silver bar were recovered, forfeited and eventually auctioned. Two pickup trucks and one trailer were also seized and forfeited.
As set forth below, agencies receiving a share of the $8,923,708.19 of forfeited assets include twenty local police departments, sheriff’s offices and district attorney’s offices, four New York State agencies and one federal agency. Additionally four Illinois law enforcement agencies and four California law enforcement agencies shared in the distribution. All received a percentage of the shared assets because of their cooperative work on the case.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Richard Belliss.