New defendant pleads guilty in conspiracy involving $44 million in drug proceeds laundered to Mexico through local cell phone store fronts
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Sukita M Williams, 44, of Las Vegas and Hilliard, Ohio, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 72 months in prison for her role in an Oxycodone ring between Las Vegas and Columbus.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Timothy Plancon, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Troy N. Stemen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Christopher White, Assistant Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.
Williams is one of six defendants to be sentenced in this case on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Oxycodone and/or conspiracy to commit money laundering. They include:
Danny R. Williams, 30, of Las Vegas, who was sentenced in July to 90 months in prison;
Dontonyo Courtney, 22, of Columbus, who was sentenced in August to 33 months in prison;
Alfred David James, Sr., 36, of Columbus, who was sentenced in September to 30 months in prison;
Joquline D. Harris, 29, of Columbus, who was sentenced in September to five years of probation; and
Rashod D. Todd, 29, of Columbus, who was sentenced in October to 70 months in prison.
Two defendants have yet to be sentenced in this case. Tiauna Castro, 28, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit money laundering and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 12, 2017.
Larissa Harris-Patterson, 46, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty in November to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Oxycodone and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Her sentencing is yet to be scheduled.
According to court documents, between 2012 and November 2015, Sukita Williams, Danny Williams and Rashod Todd conspired to import, possess and distribute Oxycodone from Las Vegas. Sukita and Danny Williams each personally went to physicians to obtain fraudulent prescriptions for Oxycodone and arranged for other members of the conspiracy to do the same. The trio also used middlemen to obtain Oxycodone. Once they obtained bulk amounts of Oxycodone, the pills were transported to Columbus, Ohio via the mail or on commercial airlines to be sold on the street to drug users.
The three attempted to conceal their illicit proceeds by depositing money into others’ bank accounts. In addition, these cash deposits funded the purchase of airline tickets that enabled couriers to transport Oxycodone to Columbus and to transport bulk amounts of cash back to them in Las Vegas.
Joquline Harris conducted financial transactions to funnel the proceeds of the illegal distribution of Oxycodone through two separate Ohio bank accounts opened by Sukita Williams, to bank accounts owned by Sukita Williams in Las Vegas. Harris further used the money in these accounts and other illicit drug proceeds from Sukita Williams to purchase airline tickets for members of the drug ring and make payments on a vehicle used in the operation.
Tiauna Castro deposited proceeds from the illegal sale of Oxycodone to a bank account in Columbus that was held in the name of a front business. The account was actually controlled by someone Castro knew was trafficking illegally obtained pills from Las Vegas to Columbus.
Harris-Patterson went to physicians to obtain fraudulent prescriptions for Oxycodone and arranged for other members of the conspiracy to do the same. She also used middlemen to obtain Oxycodone. Once she obtained bulk amounts of the drug, the pills were transported to Columbus, Ohio via the mail or on commercial airlines to be sold on the street to drug users.
“This is an important victory for the citizens of Columbus,” said Troy N. Stemen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “These individuals not only fueled the drug problem in Central Ohio, but they supported addiction in several parts of the country. The harm inflicted by these drugs is matched only by the profit potential for those who sell them.”
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by the DEA, IRS, USPIS and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), as well as Deputy Criminal Chief Michael J. Hunter, who is representing the United States in these cases.