Alleged Money Launderer From Iceland Appears In New Jersey
JAN 8 -- (San Francisco, CA) – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Pena, United States Attorney for the Northern District of California Joseph P. Russoniello, and United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Christopher J. Christie, announced that Stefan WATHNE, an Icelandic citizen last known to be residing in Moscow, Russia, made an initial appearance on January 7, 2008, in Newark, New Jersey. The appearance was made in response to an indictment issued by a federal grand jury in San Francisco, California, charging WATHNE with one count of conspiring to launder money.
According to the indictment, between the spring of 1996 and November of 2000, Mr. WATHNE is alleged to have conspired in Northern California with an individual named William Leonard Pickard, among others, to launder the financial proceeds of an LSD manufacturing operation. Pickard was arrested in November of 2000 on a separate indictment charging him with conspiracy and possession to distribute LSD, and is currently serving multiple life sentences on those charges.
Mr. WATHNE was arrested in New Delhi, India, on September 24, 2007, and remained there, initially in custody and then on bail, while the United States formally requested his extradition. Ultimately, Mr. WATHNE agreed to voluntarily return to the United States to respond to the indictment against him. He appeared in federal court Monday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark, New Jersey, after arriving at Newark International Airport. He is currently out on bail, which was set at $5,000,000.
The maximum statutory penalty for conspiring to launder money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) is 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater, 3 years of supervised release, a $100 special assessment, and forfeiture as alleged in the indictment. However, any sentence following conviction would be im posed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
An indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. WATHNE must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
S. Waqar Hasib is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Miche Sharpe and Hui Chen. The prosecution is the result of a lengthy investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs assisted in facilitating WATHNE’s return from India.