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Monday, January 2, 2012

Mansa pleads guilty to federal drug charge


Mark Mansa walks to his hearing at the Abraham A. Ribicoff Federal Building and Courthouse in Hartford on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. Mansa pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in excess of 100 kilograms between 2007 and 2011. Photo: Jason Rearick / The News-Times
Mark Mansa walks to his hearing at the Abraham A. Ribicoff Federal Building and Courthouse in Hartford on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. Mansa pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in excess of 100 kilograms between 2007 and 2011.

Mark Mansa admitted to decades of drug use and to selling large quantities of marijuana, as he entered a guilty plea in federal court on Friday.
Mansa, 47, who was indicted on federal drug charges in February, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana from 2007 to 2011.
The Bethel man, who authorities have alleged is the leader of a large-scale drug ring that included ties to the Bonanno crime family and the Hells Angels, entered the plea after accepting a deal from federal prosecutors that calls for a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $180,000.
The deal also includes a "safety valve" provision that would allow Mansa to be sentenced to less time in prison during his sentencing this spring because he doesn't have a previous conviction.
The government intends to seek a dismissal of the remaining charges against Mansa as part of the plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors had alleged in earlier court hearings that Mansa sold large quantities of steroids and included among his customers body builders and "high school-aged student athletes."
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant asked Mansa during the hearing to describe his drug dealings.
Mansa said he conspired with other co-defendants named in a February indictment, plus other unnamed people, to sell large quantities of marijuana to people who then resold the drug.
"So you are a distributor. Is that a fair assessment?" Bryant asked Mansa during the hearing.
"Yes, your honor," he replied.
"And how did you know it was marijuana you were selling?" the judge continued.
"I've been smoking it since the ninth grade," he replied.
Mansa added that he sold quantities of about a pound each to people who would then resell it "to pay for their own use."
When asked if he was a drug addict, Mansa said he has been using drugs for more than 20 years, including marijuana, cocaine, an occasional painkiller and steroids.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Vizcarrondo said during the hearing in court Friday that the evidence the government has against Mansa includes recorded telephone conversations, surveillance photos showing the Bethel man involved in drug transactions and audio recording made by cooperating witnesses who agreed to wear a wire when meeting with Mansa.
Bryant said part of the safety valve provision Mansa is seeking requires that a defendant not be involved in a leadership role in a criminal enterprise, as authorities have alleged in Mansa's case during past court hearings.
"The government is prepared to discuss that issue during sentencing," Vizcarrondo said in court. "The evidence could certainly suggest that. There is also another view that suggests equivalence among the co-conspirators."
Bryant, who said the court has yet to agree to the safety valve provision, noted the majority of her knowledge of the case is based on the stipulated agreement between Mansa and the government.
"That's great!," Mansa blurted out in court after the comment. "I hope you don't read the papers."
"Oh, I read the papers," the judge replied, adding that she will be well versed in the case by the time the sentencing rolls around.
Mansa called himself a lone wolf earlier in the court hearing when Bryant asked if the people that he sold marijuana to who further distributed the drugs were on his payroll.
"They were lone wolves much like myself," he said.
Bryant also asked Mansa how he expected to pay the $180,000 fine, which the government agreed to in exchange for relinquishing attempts to seize a house under construction that Mansa owns on Old Hawleyville Road in Bethel and a home on Empire Lane that was recently sold by his former wife.
The money from the sale remains in escrow until the case is resolved.
Mansa said he expects to receive $39,000 from the proceeds of the sale and will pay the rest from the money he makes selling the house on Old Hawleyville Road.
While Mansa said he is hoping to sell the house in the next few months for about $459,000, Bryant said that's unlikely given the current real estate market.
Vizcarrondo said he would agree to a short continuance of Mansa's sentencing if it were needed to allow that transaction to be completed.
Richard Sciaccatano, a Florida resident with alleged ties to the Bonanno crime family, was also slated to appear in court Friday to change his plea.
Sciaccatano, whose case was continued to Jan. 5, and Brookfield resident Glenn Wagner are among the four co-defendants named in the federal indictment.
Wagner is also slated to appear in court soon for a plea change, although no date for the hearing has been entered in the court's docket.
Kevin Lubic, a New York resident with ties to the Hells Angels who was also named in the indictment, is scheduled to go to trial early next year.
Mansa is expected to appear again in court for his sentencing March 23.

http://www.newstimes.com/policereports/article/Mansa-pleads-guilty-to-federal-drug-charge-2432884.php#ixzz1iEAcQFYi


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