ANCHORAGE, AK. -- On November 21, 2011, a federal jury in Anchorage convicted Kansas City, MO resident Thomas M. Riley, age 44, of possession with intent to distribute cocaine between August 30, 2007, and May 12, 2009. The jury also convicted Riley of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ordered forfeiture of the following assets: a 2004 Cadillac Escalade, a 2008 Ford F-450, a 2007 Ford Taurus, and $215,629 in cash. These assets were seized between April and May 2009, and the jury found that these assets were the proceeds of the Riley’s cocaine trafficking. In addition, the jury ordered that Riley pay a money judgment of $396,000, which represents a conservative estimate of the profits that the defendant made from the sale of 33 kilograms of cocaine in Alaska.
The trial began on November 15; 18 witnesses testified for the prosecution. The testimony from witnesses revealed that Riley had been mailing cocaine packages from Texas to Alaska since 2008. On April 13, 2009, agents seized a parcel containing $29,100 in cash that Riley was attempting to mail back to Kansas City. On May 10, 2009, agents seized another package containing $73,520 in cash, all in twenty dollar bills, that Riley was attempting to mail to Texas. Using various databases, a United States Postal Inspector was able to link Riley to incoming parcels at a P.O. box in the East Chester Post Office near downtown Anchorage. Surveillance agents observed the defendant entering that post office on May 11, 2009. Shortly thereafter, agents seized a six-pound package from the P.O. box linked to the defendant. The package had been sent from Texas, and the evidence at trial showed that the defendant purchased the postage for the package in Texas. After obtaining a search warrant, agents found two kilograms of cocaine inside the package. Furthermore, postal records showed that this P.O. box received approximately 18 previous packages, or two packages per month, with each package weighing roughly the same amount as the two kilogram package.
The defendant was arrested on May 12, 2009, and a search warrant was obtained for his local vehicle, a 2007 Ford Taurus. Inside, agents found a loaded Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol that the defendant had packaged in a Fed Ex box. Also inside the vehicle, there was an express mail parcel, which contained $110,746 in cash intended to be mailed to Kansas City. Agents linked the defendant’s drug proceeds to two additional vehicles, a Cadillac Escalade that was purchased in Alaska, and a Ford F-450 that was registered in Texas. Both vehicles were seized from a storage facility in Kansas City and were found by the jury to constitute drug proceeds, along with the seized cash. In addition, the jury found that the defendant should pay a money judgment of $396,000 to the United States as a result of his cocaine trafficking.
The trial judge, the Honorable Timothy M. Burgess, stated that sentencing would be held in the last week of February 2012. The defendant, who has previously been convicted of the same crime in California in 1995, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with a maximum of life, with a possible fine of $4 million dollars, and at least eight years of supervised release.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, both in Anchorage and in Kansas City.