I’ve never really thought or paid much mind to where a criminal would buy a car. Have you? I mean, think about it, you’d figure if someone was hiding from the police or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that they’d probably buy a car in cash and pay off a dealer to keep it off the records, right? Right.
Well, if a car dealer is going to do it for one criminal wouldn’t he do it for another? Probably. Which instantly reminds me of the children’s book “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” which tells the tale of a mouse that once he gets a cookie he wants a glass of milk and then more and more and more from then on. I suppose, if you give a corrupt used car dealer a cookie he’ll want a glass of fraud. What a money making opportunity for car dealers! Right? What could be wrong with this picture … aside from committing a money laundering scheme that lands you over 15.5 years in prion.
Richard Alan Arledge found out the hard way that if you cater to criminal customers you might end up a criminal.
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In court, prosecutors presented evidence that Arledge served as the owner and operator of Richard Arledge Suzuki, and as the director and president of Expressway Financial, Inc.
Over thirty witnesses testified during trial to establish that Arledge intentionally sold high-end luxury cars – including Bentleys, Aston Martins, and Maseratis – to individuals who derived their income from the illegal distribution of controlled substances, the promotion of prostitution, and mail and wire fraud.
These criminal customers usually paid for their luxury cars in cash, and provided tens of thousands of dollars in cash to the dealership in pillowcases, in shrink-wrapped plastic packages, in backpacks, and even in fast food paper bags.
During these financial transactions, Arledge and other dealership employees promised the criminal customers that the dealership would not report the financial transactions to federal authorities, despite federal reporting regulations requiring that all cash received in excess of $10,000 be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
Arledge and others also concealed the fact that the criminal customers were purchasing the cars by titling the transactions in the names of third parties and labeled the car purchases as “leases” in order to permit the dealership to re-acquire the luxury cars if ever seized by law enforcement during the course of a federal investigation.
Fourteen other individuals were either convicted or pleaded guilty in connection with the money laundering scheme. Former employees Cecil Coleman and Rustyn Thomas each pleaded guilty for their roles in conspiring with Arledge to assist with the illegal transactions, while Steve Ham was convicted at trial. Former employee Julius Farr pleaded guilty for concealing material facts from a law enforcement investigation. Warren Barconia and Jerome Helen each pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder proceeds derived from prostitution. Patrick Dread, Robert Louis Hawkins, Jr., and Stoney Kidd each pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder proceeds derived from the illegal distribution of controlled substances. Tyrone McCray pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder proceeds derived from mail and wire fraud as well as the illegal distribution of controlled substances. Charo Knight and Clarence Williams pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder proceeds derived from illegal gambling. Marcus Deaand Jason Palmore each pleaded guilty to assisting in the concealment of the luxury car transactions.
“The IRS is committed to lending its financial expertise to investigations of businessmen who knowingly assist criminals in covertly purchasing assets with illicit funds,” said Andrea Whelan, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division’s Dallas Field Office. “The consequences of such greed-induced actions can be severe, as evidenced by the outcome of this case” – Source.
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