Four New Jersey Men Charged with Fentanyl Analogue Distribution and Money Laundering Charges
NEWARK, N.J. – Four New Jersey men were charged for their alleged roles in drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
William Panzera, 49, of North Haledon, New Jersey; Thomas Padovano, 48, and Bartholomew Padovano, 71, both of Newark; and Sean Tighe, 46, of Kearny, New Jersey, are each charged in a second superseding indictment with one count of drug trafficking conspiracy and one count of international promotional money laundering conspiracy. Thomas and Bartholomew Padovano are also charged with domestic concealment money laundering conspiracy.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Since at least 2014, the defendants and others imported and distributed various controlled substances and controlled substance analogues, including ketamine, ethylone, multiple fentanyl analogues, and synthetic cathinones, also known as “bath salts.” The drug trafficking organization members ordered the drugs from sources in China. They stored and distributed the controlled substances from a trailer on Delancey Street in Newark. They also procured one or more pill presses and pressed the fentanyl analogues into small blue pills that were designed to resemble a commercial opioid pill and were marketed as such. These pills contained various amounts of fentanyl analogues and resulted in at least three overdoses between 2016 and 2020.
The defendants allegedly paid for the drugs they imported by sending, or recruiting others to send, international wire payments to the Chinese sources of supply.
To conceal and disguise the nature and source of the illicit narcotics proceeds, Thomas and Bartholomew Padovano made numerous cash deposits into various personal and business accounts. Both the international wire payments, as well as the cash deposits, were structured in a manner to avoid suspicion.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina; and postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Damon Wood, Philadelphia Division, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the HSI in Philadelphia, the FBI – Newark Division, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Newark Police Department, and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sammi Malek of the Criminal Division in Newark and Trial Attorneys Stephen Sola and Michael Khoo of the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.
This case was investigated under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to enhance the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of individuals involved in gang-related activities, violent crime, and drug distribution. 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 https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The charges and allegations contained in the second superseding indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.