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Press Release

Federal Grand Jury Indictment Charges Money Laundering, Obstruction, and Falsifying Documents

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Kentucky

Louisville, KY – A federal grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky, returned an indictment on June 4, 2024, charging money laundering conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of government proceedings, and falsifying documents related to a federal investigation. Three Louisville residents were charged in the indictment.  

U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky and Karen Wingerd, Special Agent in Charge, Cincinnati Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation, made the announcement.

According to the indictment, Joseph Lanham, 41, Laura Lanham, 64, and Richard “Ricky” Elble II, 43, between April 2016 and May 2023, conspired to launder proceeds from Joseph Lanham’s drug trafficking operation, primarily through real estate transactions and other large purchases made with drug money. Joseph Lanham is also charged with four counts of money laundering for conducting transactions over $10,000 with criminal proceeds, one count of obstruction of government proceedings, namely administrative asset forfeiture proceedings, and one count of falsifying documents related to a federal investigation. Laura Lanham is also charged with one count of money laundering for conducting transactions over $10,000 with criminal proceeds.

On June 6, 2024, Laura Lanham and Joseph Lanham each made an initial court appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. Elble made his initial appearance on June 7, 2024. If convicted, Joseph Lanham faces a maximum sentence of 85 years in prison, Laura Lanham faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and Elble faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

There is no parole in the federal system.

This case is being investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Jeffersontown Police Department, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Louisville Metro Police Department, and the Kentucky State Police.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Corinne E. Keel and Erin G. McKenzie are prosecuting this case.

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

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Updated June 10, 2024