Man sentenced for smuggling pot at Republic Airport
A Manhattan man has lost both his freedom and his private jet plane, according to officials.
Jonathan Bokun, 32, of West 56th Street in Manhattan, was sentenced Tuesday before Judge Sandra Feuerstein to 31 months in federal District Court in Central Islip for smuggling high-quality, hydroponically grown marijuana on the jet from California to Republic Airport.
In addition to the sentence, Bokun was ordered to forfeit his personal jet, a Dassault Brequet, valued at $500,000, court papers say.
Following Bokun's arrest in December 2011, Eastern District federal prosecutor Christopher Ott said at a bail hearing that smugglers such as Bokun often use smaller airports for trafficking in the most expensive types of California marijuana because they think there is less chance of detection.
According to court papers, Bokun was arrested after he landed in his jet on Dec. 15, 2011 at the Farmingdale airport. The jet was carrying several containers filled with a total of 247 pounds of high-quality marijuana such as that grown indoors, with a retail value of about $2.5 million.
The plane had taken off from Charles Schultz Airport in Sonoma County, Calif., the papers said.
Also arrested along with Bokun in Farmingdale was Michael Manfredi, 39, of Pleasantville in Westchester County, who had arrived at the airport driving a rented truck.
Manfredi admitted that he and Bokun were involved "in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana for more than a year," the papers said.
In addition, the papers said, "Manfredi described how, on multiple occasions, he would help Bokun to pick up 'weed' from private planes." The pilot of Bokun's plane was not charged.
Investigators from Homeland Security were eventually led to Bokun first by an informant in California who said that the Sonoma airport was being used by marijuana traffickers to distribute the hydroponic marijuana throughout the United States, the papers said.
The informant further said that a plane with marijuana was due to take off on Dec. 13, 2011 from the California airport for Bloomington, Ind., the papers continued. When that plane landed for refueling in Caspar, Wyo., a detector dog indicated that there was marijuana on the plane, and the unnamed pilot “admitted to engaging in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana,” the papers said.
Bokun's attorney, Joseph Conway of Mineola, declined to comment Thursday, as did federal prosecutor Ott.
Manfredi is awaiting sentencing. His attorney, Michael Soroka, of Mineola, declined to comment.