HUNTINGTON — Two men were sentenced Tuesday for their roles in a scheme that involved shipping at least 400 kilograms of marijuana from California to Huntington through the U.S. Postal Service.
James Waylon Molinaro, 44, was sentenced to serve six years and five months in federal prison after previously pleading guilty to possession with intent to deliver marijuana. He also pleaded guilty to prohibited possession of a firearm by a felon stemming from an unrelated possession.
His co-defendant, Chris Crookshanks, 43, was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release, during which he must serve 12 weeks of intermittent confinement in jail, after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
Michael Mason Morton, 54, has also pleaded guilty to distribution of marijuana for his role in the scheme between 2015 and 2018 and is awaiting sentencing. He is expected to be sentenced Jan. 6, 2020.
Molinaro previously said he had conspired from 2012 to March 2018 with multiple postal employees to ship marijuana from California to Huntington for distribution. Crookshanks admitted he conspired with Molinaro in the scheme between 2013 and 2018.
The marijuana would be acquired by Molinaro in California, who would arrange for it to be shipped along certain mail routes in Huntington. Molinaro paid multiple postal employees, including Crookshanks and Morton, to deliver the parcels on their delivery routes or meet them at other locations to provide the packages to him.
Molinaro was caught in March 2018 after agents with the Huntington Post Office located two parcels shipped from California to Huntington on March 15, 2018, which contained about 16 pounds of marijuana.
Agents conducting surveillance followed the packages along their delivery route before the mail carrier stopped at a store in the 800 block of Norway Avenue in Huntington and met Molinaro, who arrived in a separate vehicle.
A trooper with the West Virginia State Police later stopped the defendant’s vehicle in the 1000 block of 9th Street in Huntington and recovered the parcels, which were found to contain a total of 16 pounds of marijuana. Molinaro admitted he had intended to distribute the drug.
As part of his plea, Molinaro admitted he was responsible for distributing up to 400 kilograms of marijuana in the Huntington area during that time. Crookshanks admitted he was responsible for up to 60 kilograms of the drug and Morton admitted he was responsible for the delivery of up to 80 kilograms.
Molinaro’s firearm charge stemmed from police finding him in possession of a firearm July 29, 2018, at a Barboursville club along U.S. 60 after responding to a shots-fired call.