Eleven Individuals Involved in International Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization Indicted
A Hawaii man was sentenced to more than six years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to ship a ton of marijuana to Ohio from Hawaii, California and Oregon, and then launder the drug profits, law enforcement officials said.
William B. Murphy, 38, of Kealakekua, Hawaii, was sentenced to 80 months in prison. He previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder money.
Murphy is the last of six people to be sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy. The others are: Michael W. Spellman, of Kealakekua, Hawaii, and formerly of Geauga County; Peter Reichert, of Lyndhurst; Dustin Robinson, of East Liverpool; Young Hee Park, of Broadview Heights, and So Young Park, of Kealakekua, Hawaii.
According to court documents:
Murphy grew marijuana in Hawaii and procured marijuana in Hawaii, California and Oregon and had it shipped to people in Ohio.
Michael Spellman packaged the marijuana inside five-pound foil coffee bags, which also contained loose coffee beans, and mailed them to various addresses in Northeast Ohio, including a location in Shaker Heights. Murphy paid Spellman $100 for each package he mailed.
Reichert received packages of marijuana in Northeast Ohio, including in Chester Township, mailed from Hawaii, California and Oregon, for further distribution. Robinson received packages of marijuana in Pennsylvania mailed from Hawaii and California.
Robinson also mailed bulk cash to Spellman from East Liverpool. Murphy and Spellman had drug profits mailed to them at several post office boxes in Hawaii and California.
Young Hee Park received cash payments in Ohio from various marijuana customers and then mailed the cash to Murphy in Hawaii. Park mailed the packages containing cash from 25 different post offices in Northeast Ohio to avoid suspicion.
Spellman opened a bank account at Fifth Third Bank in Mentor. He and Murphy directed people in Ohio to deposit cash into the account from at least 15 different bank branches, in order to avoid detection. They used a similar arrangement with accounts opened at PNC Bank.
The defendants deposited at least $348,000 in cash into the accounts between 2014 and 2016. They used the accounts to pay for living expenses and other purchases, including airline tickets from flights between Cleveland and Hawaii totaling $40,959; drones from Drones, Inc. totaling $13,062; a greenhouse in Hawaii for $10,632; a Honda ATV for $11,170, and other purchases.
Overall, Murphy, Spellman and the other conspirators caused approximately 1,113 packages containing marijuana to be shipped to Northeast Ohio between 2014 and 2016. Additionally, they caused approximately 965 packages containing bulk cash to be mailed from Ohio to Hawaii, California and Oregon.
Spellman was previously sentenced to 34 months in prison. Reichert was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Robinson was sentenced to 28 months in prison
“This group mailed thousands of pounds of marijuana to Greater Cleveland from the West Coast and then laundered nearly $350,000 in drug profits,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “The leaders of this conspiracy paid for a lavish lifestyle with drug money, but now it will cost them federal prison.”
“From coast to coast the IRS will take every step to ferret out those who attempt to launder the proceeds of illegal drug profits,” said Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “The laundering of illegal drug profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the very distribution of their illegal drugs. Without these ill-gotten gains, the traffickers could not finance their organizations.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Howell following an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service and the Lake County Narcotics Agency.