LANSING POLICE, TRI-COUNTY METRO NARCOTICS SQUAD AND ALBION DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY RECEIVE CHECK FOR OVER $156,000 AS THEIR SHARE OF SEIZED ASSETS IN DRUG AND CURRENCY REPORTING INVESTIGATION
LANSING, MICHIGAN - U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis, along with IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Erick Martinez, presented the Lansing Police Department, Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad, and Albion Department of Public Safety with a check for $156,752.19 in recognition of their participation in the investigation and prosecution of a jewelry store owner who was accepting large amounts of currency and not reporting the transactions to the IRS.
The funds constitute a portion of the currency that was seized during the execution of several search warrants during the investigation into Altaf Mohamed Salim, owner of The Jewelry Store, Flint, Michigan and The Gold Touch, Lansing, Michigan. The U.S. Attorney is distributing these funds in accordance with the U.S. Treasury Department’s equitable sharing program that applies to assets seized as the proceeds or instrumentalities of criminal activity.
Altaf Salim and his jewelry stores came to light during the investigation into a marijuana trafficking conspiracy that brought over 1,000 kilograms into Lansing from 2008 to 2010. At least one of the drug traffickers, Asante Molefi Parker, who was sentenced to 262 months in prison on May 23, 2011 on marijuana conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy charges, was allegedly purchasing expensive jewelry for cash, however, no currency transaction reports had been filed. According to court records, in August 2009, Salim met with several undercover agents at The Jewelry Store, who were interested in purchasing a diamond ring with a down payment of $15,000 in cash. Salim accepted the payment and divided the cash payments into two separate transactions, making it appear as if he did not received over $10,000 for the sale of the ring. By doing this, he failed to file IRS Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business with the IRS. Later in September 2009, the undercover agents again met with Salim at The Jewelry Store and provided him with $11,300 in cash. He provided the undercover agent with two receipts dated on separate dates with amounts less than $10,000, and again failed to file the Form 8300 with the IRS. A similar meeting with the under covers occurred in November 2009, at The Gold Touch, Lansing, Michigan, where $16,900 was provided for the purchase of a diamond bracelet and again, no Form 8300 was filed. During the execution of search warrants, Asante Molefi Parker's jewelry, valued at over $100,000, which was being stored with Altaf Salim, was also seized.
On February 18, 2011, after pleading guilty to knowingly causing a nonfinancial trade or business to fail to file a Form 8300, Salim was sentenced to 7 months imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Paul L. Money also anticipated that Salim would be voluntarily deported back to India, his native country. “It takes money to run a criminal enterprise and I’m proud to say that we took it. These proceeds can now be used by our local law enforcement departments to fight crime and protect their communities,” said Erick Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service.
U.S. Attorney Davis praised the cooperative efforts of the various law enforcement agencies involved and commended the performances of Assistant U.S. Attorneys B. Rene Shekmer and Matthew G. Borgula, who prosecuted the case.