Nearly 400 pounds of marijuana and more than $1 million in cash were seized by state police and federal agents after they arrested a former mountain biking national champion from Virginia and an area man at his Wilton home Tuesday.
The arrests came this week after an investigation that started in Illinois and led police on Tuesday to Albany International Airport, then an Albany hotel and finally to a home in Wilton.
Melissa “The Missile” Giove, 37, from Chesapeake, Va., and Eric Canori, 30, of Preserve Way in Wilton, were charged by federal agents with conspiracy with an intent to possess and distribute more than 220 pounds of marijuana.
Giove was a world champion downhill mountain biker when she was 21 and the first two-time World Cup season champion in 1997 and 1998. She was a three-time National Off-Road Biking Association downhill national champion in 1999, 2000 and 2001, according to “Bike For Life,” a book by Roy Wallack and Bill Katousky that contained interviews with a dozen of the top biking champions of the past and present, including Giove.
Giove, who appeared on national late-night talk shows during her career, retired from downhill mountain bike racing in 2003, according to the book.
Police allege that between Friday and Tuesday, Giove, Canori and others agreed to receive and distribute the marijuana.
Erin Mulvey, a DEA spokeswoman, said that a person driving a rental truck pulling a box trailer behind it was stopped in Illinois by state police last week.
Illinois troopers arrested Tamara Geagley, 24, who was driving the truck. Authorities then took the truck and trailer, loaded with about 220 pounds of marijuana, and completed the delivery to the Albany area, according to Mulvey.
Police arranged the delivery of the truck and trailer to Giove, who was witnessed arriving at Albany International Airport on Tuesday morning. She took a taxi to the Hilton hotel in Albany, where she met a confidential police informant and accepted the truck and attached box trailer loaded with marijuana, according to the DEA. The box trailer was owned by Giove, police said.
Giove then drove the truck and trailer to a bookstore in Wilton, where she dropped off the undercover informant. She then drove to the parking lot of the Hannaford supermarket on Weibel Avenue and met Canori there, the criminal complaint stated. Giove then followed Canori to his Wilton home, where some of the trailer’s contents were unloaded, police said.
Giove and Canori then parted ways, according to the complaint that has been filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York, in Albany
Police followed Giove to Saratoga Lake, where she stopped the vehicle and trailer and was confronted by investigators. The trailer was searched and marijuana was found inside the trailer, the complaint said.
Police then searched the Wilton home around 5 p.m. Tuesday. The criminal complaint said that police and federal agents found “marijuana, a money counter, a heat sealer, plastic bags identical in size and color and the type used to hold and conceal the marijuana seized in the trailer, nine cellphones and approximately $1 million in cash concealed in a duffle bag in a hallway closet and in assorted shoe boxes in the basement.” A news release from the DEA said between $1 million and $2 million in cash was seized along with a total of about 400 pounds of marijuana.
Giove and Canori appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David R. Homer on Wednesday in Albany. They are in the custody of U.S. Marshals pending detention hearings that will be held today.
Police and federal agents in three states, including the New York State Police, helped investigate the case, the DEA statement said. Members of the Capital District Drug Enforcement Task Force also participated in the investigation and arrests.