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By Charles Pelkey
Former world downhill champion Melissa “Missy” Giove and two alleged co-conspirators were arrested in New York Tuesday, charged with plans to distribute some 400 pounds of marijuana.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested the 37-year-old Giove, 26-year-old Tamara Geagly and 30-year-old Eric Canori north of Saratoga Springs, New York. Earlier unconfirmed reports that investigators had also seized some $2 million in cash appear to have been inaccurate.
Agents were alerted to the distribution conspiracy by a police informant. Giove, a resident of Chesapeake, Virginia, reportedly flew to New York, met with the informant and took possession of a truck containing the marijuana soon after.
Giove was later followed to Canori’s home where the contents were unloaded. An unnamed police official said that it is believed the marijuana was intended to be distributed in the New York City area.
The three are being charged with federal drug violations and could face up to 40 years in prison and $2 million in fines. Existing federal drug statutes call for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in such cases, although recent Supreme Court rulings have granted considerable latitude to sentencing judges, particularly in cases involving first-time offenders.
Giove, also known as “The Missile,” earned a total of 14 NORBA national downhill titles, 11 UCI World Cup victories, two overall World Cup titles and the world championship in 1994.
Apparently aware of Giove’s competitive background, DEA agent John Gilbride felt compelled to offer the observation that “drug trafficking can lead you downhill fast.”
Giove is not the first American downhill racer to have been charged with a marijuana-related offense. Giove, however, faces penalties far more serious than those handed down to 2000 world champion Myles Rockwell, who was arrested in 2004 for operating a sophisticated hydroponic system used to grow 52 high quality sinsemilla plants in his home in Colorado. A state judge sentenced Rockwell to 30 nights in jail, permitting him to spend his days as a free man, and ordered him to attend a drug rehabilitation program.