Santa Rosa marijuana dealer testifies against triple pot murder defendant

SANTA ROSA (KRON/BCN) — A marijuana dealer testified in Sonoma County Superior Court Monday morning that Mark Cappello, who is accused of a triple fatal shooting, was one of his drivers who transported hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the country.

Cappello, 49, of Central City, Colorado, is on trial for the execution-style shooting murders of three men during a marijuana deal at a Forestville cabin in February 2013.

Witness Jeffrey Dings, who is in custody on unrelated federal charges and is testifying under immunity from prosecution, said on one occasion Cappello helped him process 800 pounds of marijuana for transportation to the East Coast. Dings estimated Cappello made between 15 and 20 marijuana delivery trips for him, for which Cappello earned $100 per pound and expenses.

“It takes a lot to trust somebody. Mark didn’t flinch, He was straight,” Dings said.

Dings said Cappello always returned to his ranches in Tucson, Arizona, with cash and he trusted him “implicitly.”

The business of transporting marijuana from Mexico to the U.S. was profitable until 2012 when the border between the two countries was shut down, Dings said.

He said he knew two of the men Cappello is charged with killing; Todd Klarkowski, 42, of Boulder, Colorado, and Richard Lewin, 46, of Huntington, New York.

The third murder victim was Raleigh Butler, 26, a former Sonoma County resident whose mother owned the Forestville cabin where the three men were slain on Feb. 5, 2013, while packaging marijuana for transportation to Colorado and the East Coast.

Dings said Klarkowski, who also worked for him, and Cappello “jumped connections” by arranging the marijuana deal in Forestville behind his back. Dings said he knew “zero” about the Sonoma County deal and he considered Klarkowski “a punk.”

Two other men who transported marijuana and were connected to the triple murder, Frances Dwyer, 68, of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and his son Odin Dwyer, 41, of Denver, have pleaded no contest to lesser charges in the case.

Frances Dwyer testified against Cappello last week, and Odin Dwyer, who was at the cabin with Cappello, is also scheduled to testify for the prosecution.

Dings said his relationship with Cappello suffered because Cappello was desperate and greedy when a big pot deal in California involving 1,600 pounds of marijuana fell through because most of the pot never made it across the border.

“His attitude about me was starting to rub me the wrong way. The greed thing was a serious red flag,” Dings said.

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