Indictment: Credit Counseling Firm Laundered Cash From Marijuana Trafficking
KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Two people have been charged with laundering cash from marijuana trafficking through a non-profit credit counseling agency in Kansas City, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
Mendy Read-Forbes, 37, Platte City, Mo., and Laura Shoop, 46, Platte City, Mo., are charged in a superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. In addition, Read-Forbes is charged with 16 counts of money laundering and Shoop is charged with eight counts of money laundering.
The indictment alleges that Forbes and Newhard Credit Solutions was registered as a nonprofit organization that provided credit counseling services to people who were in bankruptcy proceedings. Forbes held herself out as the owner and operator of the agency. Shoop was an acquaintance of Forbes who worked at various times for the agency.
In March and April 2012, Forbes was introduced to an undercover officer posing as a marijuana dealer. Forbes offered to devise a scheme to launder the dealer’s drug proceeds. As part of the scheme, Forbes offered to deposit money given to her by the drug dealer into the bank accounts of Forbes and Newhard Credit Solutions or related companies and then to return the money to the dealer via checks, money orders or wire transfers. The bank accounts were in Kansas.
To make the transactions appear legitimate, Forbes gave the drug dealer a contract titled “Purchase and Sale of Business Agreement.” The contract, bearing the signature of the drug dealer and another person known to the grand jury, made it appear that the marijuana dealer was purchasing assets of FCP, Inc., a corporation controlled by Forbes and another person.
To make it appear that the drug dealer was engaged in business as a certified credit counselor with Forbes and Newhard Credit Solutions, Forbes gave the drug dealer a certificate saying he had completed training as a bankruptcy specialist.
In addition, Forbes created a company called Maximum Lawn Care, LLC, and opened bank accounts where cash from the drug dealer was deposited.
Forbes agreed not to charge a fee for laundering the drug dealer’s money until she had laundered $170,000 so that the dealer could use the funds to purchase more marijuana. Forbes also agreed to let the drug dealer store 40 pounds of marijuana at her house.
If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering and each of the money laundering counts; and a maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the two marijuana counts.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Housing and Urban Development investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Oakley and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble are prosecuting.
Sean C. Costa, 24, Wichita, Kan., is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. The crime is alleged to have occurred Jan. 9, 2012, in Wichita, Kan.
Costa initially was charged in a criminal complaint filed Jan. 17 in U.S. District Court in Wichita. The complaint alleged that on Jan. 9 the Wichita Police Department was called to a report of shots fired at the McDonald’s restaurant at 6350 W. Kellogg in Wichita. The victims reported that the disturbance had begun when another car tried to cut in front of them in the drive thru. They said a male in the other car had stepped out of the vehicle and fired a shotgun at them. The blast struck the post between the driver’s side front and back doors of the victims’ car.
While investigating the case, Wichita police officers served a search warrant at 2440 Newell in Wichita. Costa was arrested and police recovered a Mossberg pump action shotgun from a crawl space next to Costa’s bed. Costa denied shooting the gun at McDonald’s.
Because had a prior felony conviction on a charge of aggravated assault in 2011 he was prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster is prosecuting.
Carin Leon-Pacheco, 38, who is not a citizen of the United States, is charged with unlawfully re-entering the United States after being convicted of a felony an deported. He was found Sept. 25, 2012, in Wyandotte County, Kan.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken is prosecuting.
Brandon Milhouse, 27, Overland Park, Kan., is charged with possession of 43 counterfeit $100 bills and nine counterfeit $20 bills. The crime is alleged to have occurred Nov. 27, 2012, in Johnson County, Kan.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The U.S. Secret Service investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble is prosecuting.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.