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Fresno Man Pleads Guilty to Structuring Drug Proceeds

JAN 29 (FRESNO, Calif.) —Joseph Edwin Gable, aka Mike Jones, 42, of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to structuring proceeds derived from an interstate drug trafficking operation, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Gable acknowledged that he structured $693,905 in cash derived from marijuana grown in Fresno and shipped to Alabama in order to evade currency transaction reporting requirements. He also acknowledged that to accomplish the scheme he used the bank accounts held by co-defendants Catatea James, 46, an IRS employee and Gable’s half-sister, and Kevin Eugene Spencer Jr., 28, the cousin of one of Gable’s girlfriends, and other associates in Fresno. Spencer has also entered a guilty plea to structuring. James has requested a jury trial, which is currently set for April 2, 2013.

Gable is scheduled for sentencing on April 8, 2013 by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. He faces a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

According to court documents, Gable was involved in a long-term interstate marijuana-trafficking conspiracy. Some of the marijuana was grown by Elgeron Graves, 42, and his brother, Herman Graves, 46, on property leased by Elgeron Graves in Fresno County. The Graves brothers recruited people to obtain California medical recommendations from a local physician for the purpose of growing marijuana, which was in fact being shipped to areas outside of California, including Alabama, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The Graves brothers also allegedly used a now defunct marijuana dispensary in Fresno as a front business for the interstate shipment of marijuana.

Damone Kelley, 44, and Vincent Graves, 53, who is unrelated to the Graves brothers, are alleged to have transported or assisted in the transportation of marijuana to Birmingham, Ala. for distribution through DK Transport, a trucking business owned by Kelley. DEA has seized and forfeited a DK Transport semi-tractor trailer valued at $25,000 and equipped with a hidden compartment used to conceal marijuana that was shipped outside of California. Elgeron Graves has already pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and was sentenced to one year in prison. Herman Graves, Vincent Graves, and Kelley have requested a jury trial.

“This case illustrates some of the abuses generated by loopholes in California medical marijuana law,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “Those who seek to profit from the interstate sale of so-called medical marijuana will be punished.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the DEA and IRS Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA), U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Birmingham, Ala., the California Highway Patrol, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the Fresno Police Department, and the Madera County Narcotics Enforcement Team (MADNET). Assistant United States Attorneys Karen A. Escobar and Grant B. Rabenn are prosecuting the case.


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