Federal Marijuana Trafficking Charges
The federal government charged two brothers with marijuana trafficking across state lines. Specifically, the men were charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 kilograms of More of Marijuana. The charges stemmed from an investigation by authorities in Pennsylvania of a small plane flying at suspicious altitudes and flight patterns. When the plane landed in Pennsylvania, authorities boarded the plane and questioned the pilot about his suspicious activities. The pilot, fearful of law enforcement, immediately confessed to transporting a large quantity of marijuana from the west coast to the east coast. Authorities quickly recruited the pilot as a cooperating witness in the hopes of discovering the full scope and extent of the drug conspiracy to which he belonged. Operating under the permission and supervision of authorities, the pilot re-boarded his plane, took flight and proceeded to his final destination.
The pilot landed in Rhode Island. He then unloaded the large drug shipment and transported it to a nearby hotel under orders from a fellow co-conspirator who was directing logistics from Utah. The pilot followed the plan, all the while working undercover for federal authorities. Once at the hotel, another co-conspirator arrived on scene with a van to take possession of the marijuana. The pilot was informed of his unknown co-conspirator’s arrival. He exited the hotel and met his unknown partner in the parking area. The two men then traveled to the vehicle formerly operated by the pilot, which was parked nearby and contained the marijuana. While the two men were unloading boxes of marijuana from the pilot’s vehicle and loading them into the co-conspirator’s vehicle, federal authorities swarmed the men and placed them under arrest. Authorities seized hundreds of pounds of high grade marijuana, a number of cell phones, two vehicles, and a quantity of U.S. currency. Authorities estimated that the seized marijuana had a street value of nearly $500.000.00.
The pilot was extradited back to Pennsylvania and prosecuted there in federal court or U.S. District Court. The co-conspirator to whom the pilot led authorities was prosecuted in Rhode Island also in U.S. District Court. This man was the younger brother of a third co-conspirator who authorities later apprehended in Utah. The two brothers were prosecuted as co-defendants in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute More than 50 Kilograms of Marijuana.
The brothers retained Attorney John L. Calcagni III and Attorney John E. MacDonald to represent them in connection with their federal charges. The younger brother who was first apprehended and arrested in Rhode Island was the first to hire John Calcagni. His older brother remained at large for a number of months while a warrant issued for his arrest. Attorneys Calcagni and MacDonald worked closely with federal prosecutors to negotiate a plea agreement for the younger brother. Once an agreement was reached, the man pleaded guilty to the charged offense and proceeded to sentencing. At sentencing, the government recommended to the Court that the man receive a sentence of 36 months or three years in jail, which was consistent with the applicable U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.). Attorney Calcagni opposed the government’s request seeking a below-guidelines sentence. He emphasized the younger brother’s lack of criminal history; involvement in a one-time drug transaction; the limited role played in this particular transaction; the influence exerted on him by his older brother; education and work experience; known substance abuse history; success with counseling and sobriety while on pretrial release; true remorse; rehabilitative potential; family support; and overall deserving of a second chance. The Court agreed as to the existence of these extenuating and mitigating factors. The Court also agreed with Attorney Calcagni’s assessment that the government’s recommendation and applicable guidelines range sentence were unwarranted in this case and greater than necessary to achieve the enumerated federal sentencing objectives. Accordingly, the Court imposed a sentence of 18 months. This was considered a tremendous defense victory in light of the government’s higher sentencing request, applicable guidelines range and the potential maximum punishment of 20 years in jail.
The older brother and third co-conspirator retained Attorneys John L. Calcagni III and John E. MacDonald after seeing the aggressive hard work and case_results they obtained for his younger brother. Initially the older brother retained out-of-state counsel to represent him in connection with his federal drug charges. Though completely satisfied with his first attorney’s services and representation, the older brother wanted someone with Attorney Calcagni’s federal experience and successful sentencing track record in his corner. Once retained, Attorneys Calcagni and MacDonald worked tirelessly to prepare the older brother’s case. He had an extensive criminal history that consisted of multiple pages and dozens of arrest. The government also targeted him as the leader or organizer of this marijuana conspiracy. These factors exposed the older brother to a potentially much higher sentence than his younger brother. This made sentencing preparation for him most challenging. To further complicate matters, the older brother’s former employee, or ex-nanny of his daughter, sent unsolicited letters to the Court and prosecutor’s office containing disparaging and defamatory allegations about him. The allegations included further drug trafficking activities, ownership of aircraft to conduct such activities and ownership off-shore assets. To make matters even worse, just before sentencing and while on pretrial release, the older brother was implicated in an unrelated criminal investigation in Utah.
Attorney Calcagni worked endlessly to prepare for the older brother’s sentencing. As for the defamatory information submitted by the ex-nanny, Attorney Calcagni investigated her background and character. He acquired sufficient information to completely undermine and destroy her credibility. Once he shared this information with prosecutors, Attorney Calcagni successfully convinced the government and Court that the she information submitted should not be considered in determining his client’s sentence. Attorney Calcagni further investigated the recent allegations of vandalism in Utah that arose just weeks before sentencing. Though the man was implicated in an ongoing investigation, Attorney Calcagni independently interviewed witnesses related thereto that resulted in vindication of his client. He then relayed this information to the government and Court resulting in it also not being considered at the time of sentencing.
At sentencing, the government pushed for a guidelines range sentence of around 60 months or five years of incarceration. This request was consistent with the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range applicable to the older brother’s case. Attorney Calcagni opposed this request. He emphasized the brother’s acceptance of responsibility and true remorse. He highlighted the brother’s guilt for his younger’s brother’s incarceration. The older brother blamed himself for his younger brother’s involvement in the conspiracy, as well as the adverse impact this ordeal had on the men’s entire family. Born and raised in Utah, the men came from a devout Mormon family. The sentencing theme offered by Attorney Calcagni was that his client fell from grace. Instead of going on a religious mission like many of his fellow Mormons upon graduating high school, the older brother found his way into a more mischievous lifestyle that involved using and abusing drugs and alcohol, premarital sex and various forms of minor criminal activity. This chosen lifestyle caused the man to develop his extensive, though mischievous criminal history that weighed heavily against going into sentencing. Attorney Calcagni highlighted his client’s progress while on pretrial release to include his employment and sobriety. Calcagni also pressed on that his client had never been sentencing to a meaningful jail term, was a single father of a mentally and emotionally challenged teenage daughter, and despite not yet having been sentenced, he had already learned his lesson. Based on Attorney Calcagni’s overall sentencing presentation, the Court imposed a sentence of around 30 months in jail, nearly half that term sought by the government. The adjudged sentence included jail credit for the time the man spent incarcerated on a federal arrest warrant while awaiting extradition from Utah to Rhode Island. The Court also adopted Attorney Calcagni’s other recommendations that the man he allowed to serve out his sentence with or as close to his younger brother as possible, and that he be allowed to participate in the Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP).