Tahoe Man pleads not guilty to pot charges
GALESBURG IL — A California man arrested last September in connection with the Galesburg Police Department’s second largest drug bust of 2013 pleaded not guilty to charges of possession, manufacturing and trafficking of marijuana at an arraignment Wednesday morning in Knox County Circuit Court.
Robert J. Cappelli, 33, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., was detained in late August by the GPD during a routine stop outside the Amtrak station on South Seminary Street.
According to police, Cappelli was traveling on Amtrak’s California Zephyr line from Nevada when GPD officers approached him after observing “suspicious behavior” on the station’s platform.
A subsequent search of Cappelli’s luggage in conjunction with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department’s K9 unit uncovered approximately 21.5 pounds of high-grade marijuana, along with 1 pound of hashish.
The discovery was the second largest of 2013 behind a May arrest for possession of 24 pounds of marijuana, which also took place outside the Amtrak station and involved a passenger of a Chicago-bound train.
Cappelli is facing two Class X felony charges and one Class 1 felony in connection with the bust. If convicted, he could face anywhere from 6 to 30 years in the DOC on the Class X charges, and four to 15 years on the Class 1 felony.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Cappelli’s attorney Robert Boucher requested his client’s pretrial conference be moved from the April jury calendar to early June.
Boucher told the court Cappelli is in the process of seeking counsel from a second attorney based in California, and additional time will be needed in order to properly formulate Cappelli’s case.
Cappelli was released in early September on $250,000 bond. He will appear again in court for a pretrial conference June 2, and a jury trial in his case is set to begin June 16.
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Warren County K-9 key in Galesburg Amtrak drug bust
- Posted Aug. 28, 2013 @ 4:58 pm
More than 20 pounds of marijuana and 1 pound of hash were seized Saturday from a California man's luggage outside the Amtrak Station in Galesburg.
Warren County sheriff's K-9 Kilo assisted Galesburg police in obtaining a search warrant.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Robert J. Cappelli, 33, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., for charges of cannabis trafficking and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
This is Galesburg's second large cannabis bust this year, following a 24-pound seizure in mid-May.
Cappelli was approached by GPD officers Torry Carnes and Lane Mings after what police called suspicious behavior, upon his arrival Saturday afternoon at the Amtrak Station on the California Zephyr from Nevada.
Carnes and Mings frequently work criminal interdiction patrol outside the station, in which they keep an eye out for wanted people, missing people and drug trafficking.
According to the GPD, a prior check on Cappelli showed an extensive criminal history for narcotics violations.
When the officers asked him about his travels, police said Cappelli appeared nervous.
Because he was not under arrest, Cappelli left the scene, but officers detained his luggage.
K-9 handler Matt Greenlief, of the Warren County Sheriff's Office, was then contacted by GPD who asked for his and German shepherd Kilo's assistance.
Once Kilo arrived at the public safety building, authorities conducted an open-air sniff.
"He alerted to the odor of narcotics from the bag," Greenlief said.
Kilo's reaction served as probable cause for a search warrant. The bags were opened and police said 21.5 pounds of high-grade marijuana were discovered, along with 1 pound of hash.
Kilo was an essential component of the bust, according to Galesburg police.
Greenlief and Kilo were called from Warren County because the Galesburg dogs weren't available.
Because there is a limited number of K-9 units in the area, handlers frequently travel to other counties.
"We try to cover each other," Greenlief said. "We're all in it for the common good."