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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Plainwell Man, Benjamin James Cance, Charged With Illegal Arms Exportation, Other Crimes

Benjamin James Cance Indicted For Shipping Gun Components Overseas, Money Laundering, and Illegal Possession of a Machinegun

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced today the indictment of Benjamin James Cance. Cance, age 30, is charged with three crimes. The first alleges that he illegally shipped gun components that are on the Federal Munitions List overseas. The second charge alleges that he engaged in money laundering by using the profits from this business to purchase a house. Finally, Cance is charged with illegal possession of an unregistered machinegun. International arms shipment is punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years; the maximum penalty for money laundering and possession of a machinegun is ten years in prison.

          In pretrial filings with the court, the government disclosed that Cance’s illegal dealings with his overseas customers were allegedly conducted through illegal internet sites, referred to as the "darknet." He also allegedly utilized electronic currencies, such as Bitcoin, to get paid for his services in an effort to hide the nature of his activities.

         The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell for disposition. On August 11, 2015, Cance appeared before Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green to answer the charges and entered a plea of not guilty. He was placed on bond at that time. No trial date has yet been set.

          The case was assigned to Timothy VerHey, Assistant U.S. Attorney, for prosecution. Investigation of the case is being conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

          The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.


Updated January 8, 2016