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Fresno Man Sentenced for Laundering Drug Proceeds

APRIL 22 (FRESNO, Calif.) —Joseph Edwin Gable, aka Mike Jones, 42, of Fresno, was sentenced today by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii to four years and nine months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for structuring proceeds derived from an interstate drug trafficking operation, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

His sentence follows his guilty plea earlier this year. According to court documents, Gable structured $693,905 in cash derived from the sales of marijuana grown in Fresno and shipped to Alabama in order to evade currency transaction reporting requirements. Financial institutions are required to file currency transaction reports for cash transactions involving more than $10,000. To accomplish the scheme, Gable used multiple bank accounts held by friends and relatives, including co-defendants Catatea James, 46, an IRS employee and Gable’s half-sister, and Kevin Eugene Spencer Jr., 28, the cousin of one of Gable’s girlfriends. Spencer has also pleaded guilty to structuring. James has requested a jury trial, which is currently set for September 10, 2013.

According to court documents, Gable was involved in a long-term interstate marijuana-trafficking conspiracy. Some of the marijuana was grown by Elgeron Graves, 42, and his brother, Herman Graves, 46, on property leased by Elgeron Graves in Fresno County. The Graves brothers recruited people to obtain California medical marijuana recommendations from a local physician for the purpose of growing marijuana, which was in fact shipped to areas outside of California, including Alabama, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The Graves brothers also allegedly used a now-defunct marijuana dispensary in Fresno called California Patient Network or CPN as a front business for the interstate shipment of marijuana.

Damone Kelley, 44, and Vincent Graves, 53, are alleged to have transported or assisted in the transportation of marijuana to Birmingham, Ala. for distribution through DK Transport, a trucking business owned by Kelley. DEA has seized and forfeited a DK Transport semi-tractor trailer valued at $25,000 and equipped with a hidden compartment used to conceal marijuana that was shipped outside of California. Elgeron Graves has already pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and was sentenced to one year in prison. Herman Graves, Vincent Graves, and Kelley have also requested a jury trial. James, Kelley, Herman Graves and Vincent Graves are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA), U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Birmingham, Ala., Birmingham Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno Police Department, and Madera County Narcotics Enforcement Team (MADNET). Assistant United States Attorneys Karen A. Escobar and Grant B. Rabenn are prosecuting the case.


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