Grand Jury Returns Superseding Indictment in Methamphetamine Organization Case Charging Additional Defendants with Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering
AMARILLO, TX --- Last week a federal grand jury in Amarillo returned a superseding indictment in the case U.S. v. Sitthiphone Phengsengham, a/k/a “Teddy Phengsengkham,” et al. adding two additional defendants to the indictment that already charged 22 individuals with various offenses related to their role in a methamphetamine organization that operated in Amarillo, announced U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas.
The two additional defendants added, Tuan Anh Tran and Stephanie Feng Tran, are each charged with one count of money laundering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (h). Other defendants charged with one count of money laundering conspiracy are Sitthiphone Phengsengkham, a/k/a Teddy Phengsengkham, Itthison Phengsengkham, a/k/a Eddy Phengsengkham, Thongfoth Phengsengkham, Pathounpone Phengsengkham, Tina Phengsengkham Agan and Pam Vanhxay Ou. The indictment alleges that from January 1, 2004 to February 15, 2007, these defendants conspired together to knowingly and intentionally conduct and attempt to conduct financial transactions involving illegal drug proceeds in order to arrange for, and facilitate the ongoing purchase, storage, transportation, sale and distribution of controlled substances, the ongoing distribution of currency derived from this illegal activity, and the concealment and disguise of the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the illegal drug proceeds. The penalty for conspiracy to commit money laundering, upon conviction, is a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Many of the defendants in this case were arrested in an early-morning round up on February 15, 2007, which was the culmination of an investigation that began more than two years ago. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Office in Amarillo, as well as the Potter County Sheriff’s Office, the Randall County Sheriff’s Office, the Amarillo Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety worked undercover in a joint effort to arrest major drug distributors. During the course of the investigation, approximately 14 pounds of methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of more than $700,000 was seized along with more than $300,000 in U.S. currency and various firearms.
Most of the defendants named in the superseding indictment are also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit a drug offense, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. According to the indictment, from June 1, 2003 until February 15, 2007, defendants Sitthiphone Phengsengkham, a/k/a Teddy Phengsengkham, Itthison Phengsengkham, a/k/a Eddy Phengsengkham, Thongfoth Phengsengkham, Pathounpone Phengsengkham, Tina Phengsengkham Agan, Michael Marion Cuellar, James Brewer, Eddie Cramer, Roland Boswell, Terry Hickman, Jeremy Thorn, Jennifer Denise Collins, Mike Arnold, Robert Petersen, Jr., Richard Oeader, Robert Cash Richardson, Charles Melear, Tommy Tomlin, Leora Romero, Charles Wayne Mestas, Richard Bermea, and Pam Vanhxay Ou conspired together to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of cocaine. The maximum statutory sentence for conspiracy to commit a drug offense is up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In addition to the drug and money laundering conspiracy charges in the superseding indictment, it also includes four firearms counts. It charges Thongfoth Phengsengkham with one count of knowingly receiving and possessing a Remington Model 870 sawed-off pump shotgun on February 15, 2007. The indictment also charges Itthison Phengsengkham, a/k/a Eddy Phengsengkham, with, on February 15, 2007, knowingly possessing a 9mm fully automatic handgun with a flash suppressor, with using and carrying a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The maximum statutory sentence for possessing a prohibited weapon is up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The sentence is the same for the felon in possession charge.
The superseding indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation which would require that, upon conviction, several defendants forfeit various parcels of real property to the United States.
Most of the defendants in this case are in custody. A trial date has not yet been set. An indictment is an accusation by a grand jury and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.
U.S. Attorney Roper praised the investigative efforts of the DEA, the Potter County Sheriff’s Office, the Randall County Sheriff’s Office, the Amarillo Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vicki Lamberson of the Amarillo, Texas, U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.