Central Illinois Mother and Son Sentenced to Prison for Marijuana and Money Laundering Conspiracy
URBANA, Ill. –Jennifer Fisher, 50, of Springfield, Illinois, was sentenced on June 27, 2022, to 14 months of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
At the sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence establishing that Fisher aided her son, Courtney Johnson, 32, of Decatur, Illinois, in the conspiracy, which involved hundreds of pounds of marijuana. Fisher assisted her son in laundering drug proceeds to expand the drug operation and fund his travel. The laundering included expanding operations within the Decatur area through the maintenance of several storage areas for the marijuana. Through subsequent investigation, law enforcement agents also discovered that Johnson had multiple pounds of cocaine that he intended to sell as well.
A federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment against Fisher and Johnson in March 2020. Fisher pleaded guilty in February 2022 to conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. In May 2022, Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of a mixture and substance containing cocaine, and maintaining a drug-involved premises (two counts).
Both Fisher and Johnson faced maximum possible penalties of 20 years of imprisonment and up to a $500,000 fine for the money laundering conspiracy. Fisher faced additional penalties of up to 20 years of imprisonment and up to a $1,000,000 fine for her involvement in the marijuana conspiracy. For his participation in the marijuana conspiracy, Johnson faced a maximum possible penalty of 40 years of imprisonment and a maximum possible fine of $5,000,000. Johnson faced the same penalties for the cocaine charge as well. And he faced maximum possible penalties of 20 years of imprisonment and a $500,000 fine for each count of maintaining a drug-involved premises.
Various items derived from proceeds of the offense or items used to commit or facilitate the offense are subject to criminal forfeiture. Those included four motor vehicles, $27,598 of United States currency, gold and diamond jewelry, and several precious wristwatches.
Johnson was previously sentenced in May 2022 to an aggregate seven-and-a-half years in the Bureau of Prisons for his offenses.
“The outcome of this case is another example of cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies not only to disrupt an illegal drug conspiracy but also to seize and forfeit the ill-gotten gains produced from the drug conspiracy,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris. “Federal prosecutors will continue to seek the forfeiture of assets obtained or used in criminal activity.”
“This is an important victory for the American public. Not only are two criminals going to prison for their crimes, but the government has seized a significant portion of the illegal proceeds through asset forfeiture,” said Justin Campbell, Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The role of IRS CI in narcotics investigations is to follow the money so we can financially disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations. IRS-CI is proud to provide its financial expertise as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring criminals to justice.”
The Decatur Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys William J. Lynch and C. Ryan Finlen represented the government in the prosecution.
This investigation grew into a multi-jurisdictional effort involving the Illinois State Police, the Nevada Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.