"ECSTASY" FOR AIR GUARD PILOT
An Air National Guard captain and his master sergeant loadmaster are facing long stretches in prison, following their arrest and guilty plea in a pill-smuggling scheme that was run out of Europe.
Capt. Franklin Rodriguez, 36, a C-5A "Galaxy" cargo plane pilot, and his loadmaster, M/Sgt. John Fong, 37, admitted in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that they tried to bring into the United States 300,000 "Ecstasy" pills worth more than $12 million.
For their role in the plot and previous drug-smuggling activities, the duo could face up to 20 years behind bars. Sentencing in the case is scheduled for August 25.
Investigators said Rodriguez and Fong were arrested at Newburgh, New York after returning to Stewart Air National Guard Base from a round-trip flight in April 2005 to deliver training supplies to the Republic of Georgia. The huge aircraft had diverted to Germany to pick up the drugs before making the final leg of the journey back to the USA.
When federal agents swooped down on the smugglers, they found 28 bags of pills loaded into Rodriguez's 2001 Silver BMW.
Both men admitted their part in the drug smuggling.
"My client realizes he made an egregious and terrible mistake," said Rodriguez's attorney, Lawrence Carra. "He is immensely remorseful."
Yeah, at getting caught.
Carra said the captain got caught up in the "excitement and thrill" of what he was doing and "greed" caused him to be unable to stop his illegal activities.
Rodriguez may get a few years shaved off his sentence as the result of a deal with the Feds. The crooked captain agreed to forfeit $726,000 in cash, his luxury BMW automobile, and some $50,000 he had deposited on a property in Mount Vernon, N.Y.