Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Judge postpones trial for convicted drug runner

Burlington, Vermont — A federal judge has agreed to postpone the criminal trial of a convicted drug runner from Sudbury who is facing a new charge of flying without a license for a midnight flight into a Rutland County in April.

Also, Angelo P. Efthimiatos, 48, will be allowed to get a new lawyer after telling the court Tuesday that he has a lack of confidence in Assistant Public Defender Steven L. Barth.

After extensive questioning, Judge Christina Reiss agreed to replace Barth and said she will move quickly to get Efthimiatos a new criminal defense lawyer.  She questioned a claim by Efthimiatos that he needed a lawyer specializing in Federal Aviation Administration law.

Efthimiatos said he is trying to avoid a felony conviction because he believes it would ruin his aviation career.  He said he believes his case is really a civil violation and not a criminal act.

“My goal is to get to trial as soon as possible,” Reiss told him.

Jury selection was scheduled for next Monday, but the judge has now postponed it until Oct. 2.

Efthimiatos noted the prosecution had offered him a 90-day sentence to resolve the case, but he had been held 147 days as of Tuesday’s hearing.

Efthimiatos flew a Piper aircraft into the closed Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport at about 12:15 a.m. April 10 as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration stakeout team watched, federal court records show.

No drugs or large amounts of currency were found in the plane, according to the DEA.  The DEA said in court papers it had received information Efthimiatos might be arriving by plane at the airport in North Clarendon that night.

He has pleaded not guilty to the single-charge indictment.  It notes that between January and March of this year at least four times Efthimiatos purchased fuel for an aircraft in preparation for a flight or after landing at the Rutland airport.  The fuel purchases were for a Piper aircraft with the same tail number  flown into Rutland the night Efthimiatos was arrested, records show.

The indictment also said that same plane made “multiple trips of short duration, often traveling late at night between small airports” like Newport State Airport in Rhode Island, Nantucket Airport in Nantucket, Mass., and Rutland airport after each of them was closed.

The FAA has said Efthimiatos’ license to fly was revoked for life in 2014 following two drug convictions in Iowa that involved him using a small aircraft to transport a large load of drugs between California and the East Coast. He admitted it was his fourth drug-related cross-country smuggling trip, records show.

Efthimiatos completed a nearly five-year federal prison sentence for drug conspiracy last year and was placed under federal supervision for five years, officials said.  They said his supervised release was transferred to Vermont.

He could face up to three years if convicted in Vermont on the new flying charge and another two years in Iowa if his supervised release is revoked, Barth said at an earlier hearing. Barth maintained the penalties should be much less on both.

As the hearing began Tuesday, Reiss ordered Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia A.P. Cowles, the prosecutor, to leave the courtroom so she would be unable to use any comments made by the defendant or Barth.

Efthimiatos said Barth had done a “terrible job” and the relationship had become adversarial.  Efthimiatos also said Barth had failed to try to learn why the DEA was trailing him in April, and failed to push for Efthimiatos’ release pending trail.

Reiss questioned Efthimiatos at length about his relationship with Barth. She warned him against listening to inmates or others without law degrees who think they know what should be done and what motions or documents should be sought.  She said Barth has done a good job in other criminal cases and has successfully defended others charged in federal court.

After the questioning, Reiss asked Efthimiatos about using Barth.

“I think we are done here,” Efthimiatos said.  Barth agreed.

Cowles has estimated the jury trial could take up to four days, including one day for jury selection, two days of trial and whatever the defense had for the case.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.rutlandherald.com


Anonymous said...

License revoked for life and he's worried about his aviation career.

Pete Steele said...

There's always the Blue water truck career

Anonymous said...

He is a danger and menace to society and his spouse is as deranged and devious as he is. I would feel sorry for him if he was deserving but he has too many victims that have been harmed and manipulated by him. He will say and do anything to get money, lacks any moral and ethical conscience/ integrity. He will not change, a con man at the core ... he needs to be locked up for good.