JULY 17 (MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -Three used car salesmen have entered guilty pleas for their roles in selling cars to drug traffickers in an effort to launder drug proceeds, announced United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton III.
Wayne David McAlpin, Jr., 50, of Memphis, TN pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of filing fraudulent documents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Brian Bowman, 46, of Lakeland, TN; and James Austin, a/k/a “the Rev,” 61, of Memphis, TN, each pleaded guilty to one count of filing fraudulent documents with the IRS.
In addition, McAlpin, Jr. and Bowman agreed to forfeit almost $12 million dollars in bank accounts, investment accounts and vehicles, including: a 2008 Bentley Continental GTC; a 2011 Audi A8; a 2009 Cadillac Escalade; and a 2011 Lexus GX460.
“Traffickers may be equipped with a multitude of sophisticated methods in which to hide their assets, but Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) relentless pursuit to disrupt and destroy their drug trafficking activities prevailed in this case,” said Brian K. Chambers, the Resident Agent in Charge of the DEA Memphis Resident Office. “This investigation was a success because of the multi-level law enforcement cooperation.”
This investigation was conducted in conjunction with prosecutors in Memphis as part of the Department of Justice Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program, which seeks to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises.
“While masking themselves as legitimate businessmen, these individuals lined their pockets with excessive profits by helping drug dealers enjoy the lavish fruits of their criminal acts,” said U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III. “These guilty pleas should serve as a clear reminder to those business operators who facilitate fraud and money laundering schemes that while you think you may be flying under the radar, you are not. It’s just a matter of time before you are caught and brought to justice.”
According to the agreed-upon statement of facts filed with the court during the men’s respective plea hearings, during the time in question, McAlpin, Jr. was president of Budget Auto Sales, and Austin worked as a salesman there. Bowman was president of Pyramid Used Car Sales. These businesses were frequented by individuals engaged in criminal activity, including, but not limited to, illegal drug trafficking. The businesses sold multiple vehicles to drug traffickers, knowing they had previously had vehicles seized by law enforcement for transporting and concealing illegal drugs.
As part of the criminal conspiracy to conceal the fact that cars were being purchased with the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking, each man submitted IRS Form 8300s with false and misleading information. This form requires any car dealership to report all cash transactions of $10,000 or more. The individuals also titled vehicles in the names of other people, as part of an effort to hide the transactions from law enforcement.
"Structuring financial transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements is a criminal violation of federal law under the Bank Secrecy Act. Deliberately avoiding BSA requirements is a form of money laundering," stated Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge of the Nashville Field Office. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to unraveling complex financial transactions and money laundering schemes where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their money."
This crime was investigated by the DEA, the IRS Criminal Investigations, the Memphis Police Department, and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Chris Cotton, Daniel French, and Jerry Kitchen on behalf of the government.The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.