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Melvin Cornella faces drug trafficking charges

by VICTOR CORRAL MARTINEZ
Staff Writer | July 15, 2021 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Melvin Cornella, 60, has posted bail and faces three felony charges for being a persistent violator, trafficking heroin and possessing a controlled substance.

According to court documents, on Nov. 6, Cornella was driving around 9 p.m. in a Mercury van and spotted by Bonners Ferry Police Officer Travis Stolley, who noticed the van with Nevada license plates.

Stolley lost sight of the van but drove around El Paso Street and was able to locate the vehicle parked on the 6400 block of Fillmore Street.

“I drove my patrol car along side of the van and rolled down my passenger window as an adult male got out of the driver seat,” Stolley said.

Stolley stated to Cornella the peculiarities of an out-of-state vehicle parking in the neighborhood at 9 p.m., to which Cornella responded by saying he had spent the day at the Kootenai River Inn with his wife.

As Stolley turned his patrol car, he noticed the van’s hood had a unique design similar to one reported in a grand theft of an all-terrain vehicle at the Gold Bar Ranch.

Stolley then parked his patrol car and knocked on the door of where Cornella went into and asked if he could speak to him outside. A cooperative Cornella stated he didn’t buy a four-wheeler when asked and stated the van belonged to his wife’s father.

Cornella continued to say that he lost $400 at the casino within four hours and was in the process of switching over registration for the van.

“Melvin told me he know the registration was expired on the car and that the tag in the back window was expired as well,” Stolley said.

Melvin’s wife, Tina Cornella, was the only person reported to be in the car and told Melvin that she didn’t lend the vehicle to anyone.

Stolley informed Melvin how the ATV belonged to a deceased man, and his son, an active-duty sailor, stationed in Bahrain, was in town to take care of his father’s affairs, which weighed on Melvin, who changed his story.

According to Stolley, Melvin then stated there is one person he would check with but wouldn’t disclose the name of the suspected person, eventually saying to check the Ramirez’s residence located on the 900 block of Deep Creek Loop.

Melvin stated that he knew more than he probably should know and was freaking out about the situation.

At that point, Stolley searched the van after Melvin gave permission and was cooperative with Stolley, which helped identify the van that was involved with the theft of the ATV.

“I asked Cornella bout the paperwork and he picked it up and read off the name from an Idaho vehicle registration,” Stolley said, “The name on the registration belonged to Stanley Kolakowski, who was the deceased owner of the four-wheeler.”

The vehicle was then impounded to the city lot and sealed with evidence tape.

On Nov. 7, Boundary County Sheriff Cpl. Mike Valenzuela deployed a K-9 narcotics dog, Buddy, who quickly positively identified the vehicle containing narcotics.

The vehicle search found a silver-plated box located in the floorboard of the second-row seats, and the box contained an Idaho ATV license plate, identified as the stolen ATV from Gold Bar Ranch.

Additionally, 10 thumb drives, multiple cellphones, lock pick kits, and a vehicle master lock pick set was discovered.

A black zipper bag with magnets was discovered outside near the back portion of the engine compartment, which contained 3 grams of black tar heroin, later positively tested and half a gram of methamphetamines.

Melvin posted a $5000 bail and is expected to appear via zoom for a second preliminary hearing on July 23, with judicial officer Justin Julian presiding over the case.