WESTFIELD, Mass. - A fundraising event is planned to help two area men who were arrested in Wyoming after they were found to be in possession of a large amount of marijuana.
A Facebook page – Benefit to Bring Our Truckers Home – has been created by Christina Denardo and includes an online flyer which promotes the event to "help bring our truckers home" scheduled for Saturday at Tommy D's Courtyard Pub but the bar's owner, Tom Denardo, said Friday that his establishment is not the sponsor of the event.
Denardo said that he does not rent out the bar for such events but does allow them to happen on the premises although he pointed out that he believes the event in question also includes a car and motorcycle wash at a local gas station.
The Facebook page includes a photo of Donald G. Cornelius and, although the flyer does not specify the truckers who need help getting home, the event is apparently an effort to help Cornelius and Anthony M. Swift who were taken into custody in Wyoming Aug. 19 when the load in the tractor trailer truck they were operating was found to include 231 pounds of marijuana.
A press release from the Wyoming Highway Patrol reports that a trooper (subsequently identified as Trooper Aaron Kirlin) patrolling Interstate 80 in the Elm Mountain area of the state conducted a traffic stop and commercial inspection of a tractor trailer combination on the eastbound side of the interstate shortly after 8 a.m. on Aug. 19.
The statement reports that during the inspection Kirlin became interested in statements made by the driver, Cornelius, as well as items listed in the truck's log book and elected to examine the load.
Kirlin found ten boxes that were not listed on the bill of lading for the load which were found to contain a total of 231 pounds of marijuana. The trooper also found more than $3,000 in cash, which was seized. The press release estimated the value of the seized marijuana at $1,386,000.
The press release reports that Cornelius, who listed an address in Orlando, Fla., but is known to be a city native, and Swift, of Chicopee, were taken into custody and face felony charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and conspiracy with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
A deputy clerk at the Carbon County (Wyo.) District Court reported yesterday that Swift had been arraigned after a hearing in circuit court and bound over for a Feb. 26, 2013, trial. She said he was released on $75,000 bond.
The clerk said that a hearing for Cornelius was also staged but said that she has no paperwork to show that he "bonded out" and nor for an arraignment date in District Court.
Cornelius listed his address as 71 Ann St. in Chicopee when he was arrested in Westfield on Aug. 13, 2012, and charged with disorderly conduct after a disturbance near Tommy D's.
A person who posted a note on an Internet billboard for truckers claims that Swift is Cornelius's stepfather.
Denardo said that Cornelius is his daughter's boyfriend and defended the men saying that they were merely truckers who were hired to deliver a load of commercial lighting supplies and they did not know what was in the box trailer they were hauling.
"They don't have access to the trailer. The trailers are locked," he said.
Lt. Jerome Pitoniak, the commander of the Westfield Police Department's traffic bureau, said that truckers usually have a key to access the trailer they are hauling in case of emergency but said that the trailer doors are often sealed to make any entry obvious.
Kirlin said yesterday that the truckers had a key for the padlock securing the trailer and said that there was no seal on the trailer door.
The benefit event, according to the flyer, will start at 1 p.m. at Tommy D's on Saturday and will feature music, cold beer and hot food.
In addition, the flyer advertises raffles and a "bikini bike wash".
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