Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Alleged pot pilot released on bail

FITCHBURG -- An Oregon man charged with trafficking about 75 pounds of marijuana into Fitchburg Municipal Airport on Sept. 27 was released on $5,000 bail after his arraignment in Worcester Superior Court on Tuesday morning.

Hoang Nguyen was already free on $50,000 bail set in Fitchburg District Court.

Nguyen pleaded not guilty to trafficking marijuana, according to District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.'s spokesman, Paul Jarvey.

Nguyen flew out of Santa Monica, Calif., to Grundy, Ill. where he refueled using cash and slept in his plane, court records state. A suspicious airport manager tipped off Homeland Security, which sent a plane to follow Nguyen.

State police troopers were waiting for Nguyen when he landed in Fitchburg.

Troopers and a police dog found three duffel bags filled with marijuana valued at about $370,000, as well as $77,000 in cash, an iPad and maps, Fitchburg District Court records state.

Nguyen worked as a flight trainer and then as a commercial pilot for SkyWest Airlines for five years, according to court documents.

If convicted, he could lose his plane.

Nguyen must check in with the Probation Department weekly while out on bail. His next scheduled court date is June 6.

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