Upper Marlboro Man Sentenced to over 10 Years in Prison For Drug Dealing and Money Laundering
Defendant Forfeits Over $100,000 in Cash and Bank Accounts,
Seven Properties, Two Vehicles and Jewelry
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. sentenced Eric Hellams, age 40, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland today to 121 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute heroin, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and mail fraud. Judge Williams also ordered Hellams to forfeit seven properties and two vehicles purchased from drug proceeds; over $100,000 in cash and deposits from 13 banking or investment accounts; and jewelry.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
"The sentence Mr. Hellams received should send a strong message to both drug traffickers and their financiers, who attempt to hide their illicit gains," stated Ava A. Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Drug trafficking and its proceeds will always lead to prison time."
“We play a unique role in federal law enforcement’s counter-drug effort in that we target the profit and financial gains of narcotics traffickers which comprise a significant portion of the untaxed underground economy,” said Acting IRS Special Agent in Charge Jeannine Hammett.
According to his plea agreement, from 2003 to 2009, Hellams conspired to distribute heroin to customers in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Judge Williams determined at today’s hearing that Hellam conspired to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin.
Hellams also conspired with others to conceal the drug proceeds by the way he conducted his financial transactions. For example, Hellams conducted over $200,000 in cash transactions, paying personal expenses with money orders purchased with cash from drug trafficking. On June 2, 2008, Hellams and a co-conspirator drove to New York and laundered $198,740 in drug proceeds. During the course of the conspiracy, Hellams and others conspired to launder between $400,000 and $1 million in proceeds from drug trafficking.
In July 2006, Hellams sought refinancing of a home on Howell Drive in Upper Marlboro in the amount of $431,250. Hellams falsely listed his monthly income at $14,897 on a mortgage document which he mailed to the mortgage company, which equaled an annual income of $178,764. The only employment listed by Hellams was president of “Dreemrs Trucking.” For the tax year 2006, however, Hellams filed a federal tax return reporting only $3,355 in total income. The mortgage went into default, resulting in a loss of $107,590 to the mortgage company.
On April 13, 2010, agents executed a search warrant at Hellam’s home on McCormick Road in Upper Marlboro and seized: $94,875 in cash hidden in an attic crawl space; a bullet-proof vest; jewelry, including Rolex, Gucci and Cartier watches, necklaces and Tiffany bracelets; a 2008 Mercedes-Benz coupe for which Hellams was paying approximately $2,200 per month in loan payments; a Toyota truck; $5,000 in cash in a closet; and $1,220 in cash in a pocket of an apron.
The Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force was established to unify the agencies that regulate and investigate mortgage fraud and promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of mortgage fraud schemes. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to protect consumers from fraud and promote the integrity of the credit markets. Information about mortgage fraud prosecutions is available www.justice.gov/usao/md/Mortgage-Fraud/index.html.
This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked DEA, FBI and IRS - CI for their work in investigating this matter, and commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan C. Su, who prosecuted the case.