Prison For Three Involved In Valley Drug Cartel

Three Valley residents were sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for their part in a marijuana growing and distribution ring, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney David Fein.

The three sentenced were ex-Ansonia Alderman Joseph Cassetti, 61, of Ansonia; Sterling Mazza, 25, of Oxford; and James Canavan, 27, of Ansonia.

A fourth person — alleged ringleader Cheyne Mazza of Oxford — awaits sentencing on Aug. 29.

Federal Prison

U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford handed down the sentence Tuesday.

Canavan was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

Cassetti and Mazza received sentences of 37 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Ex-Alderman Cassetti is a former microbiologist with a master’s degree in education, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors said the three worked with Sterling Mazza’s brother, Cheyne Mazza, 29, of Oxford.

Cheyne Mazza led the growing and distribution operation, which ran from 2008 until 2010, prosecutors said.

All four have pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants.

Cheyne Mazza is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 29 at 10 a.m. at U.S. District Court in Hartford. He faces at least 10 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors said much of the marijuana was grown at properties on Root Avenue in Ansonia and at a home on Pawnee Road in Oxford, all owned by Cassetti and his family.

Cassetti lived at 72 Root Ave. in Ansonia, and Canavan and Sterling Mazza rented from him at 63 Root Ave. in Ansonia.

Cheyne Mazza rented the home in Oxford.

Cheyne Mazza sold the marijuana to a “network of street-level dealers” federal prosecutors said in the press release.

In November 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration and local police executed state search and seizure warrants at the Ansonia and Oxford properties and seized more than 1,400 marijuana plants and equipment used to grow and process marijuana. View WTNH video below for a report from that raid.

One marijuana plant can yield approximately one pound of marijuana, prosecutors said.

Cheyne Mazza has been detained since his arrest in Derby on December 1, 2009, when law enforcement found him in possession of more than two pounds of marijuana.
On Jan. 7, 2010, a search of the Mazza family home revealed approximately two pounds of marijuana, more than $11,000 in cash and a digital scale from Sterling Mazza’s bedroom, the statement said.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Haven Task Force, notably the Ansonia Police Department.  The Task Force also includes participants from the New Haven, Meriden, Hamden, West Haven and Branford Police Departments.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Sullivan and Michael Runowicz.

The video below is from WTNH on Nov. 22, 2008, when police first busted the marijuana growing operation.

Over 1000 plants seized in pot bust:


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