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San Francisco-Based Drug Trafficker Sentenced to Over 13 Years in Prison

MAR 31 (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – Herman Keese, 57, of San Francisco, was sentenced on Thursday to 13 years and eight months in prison by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin announced today.  Keese pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering charges on August 25, 2016.

According to court documents, between April 2007 and March 1, 2012, Keese distributed methamphetamine and PCP from San Francisco to Sacramento and to the East Coast. Keese also engaged in a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of the drug trafficking enterprise using a 97-cent store he owned in San Francisco.

“Today’s sentencing of Herman Keese should send a clear message to would-be criminals—you will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Together with our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DEA, and ATF, we will hold those engaged in similar conduct ‎fully accountable.”

According to the plea agreement, one of the methods Keese used to launder drug proceeds involved having his associates deposit money in various banks across the East Coast, which would later be withdrawn at various banks in California, some in the Eastern District of California (EDCA). On numerous occasions, Keese spoke with the undercover agents regarding a means to move his drug proceeds from the East Coast to California. He indicated that he needed a method by which he could move $150,000 per week from Philadelphia to California.

On May 11, 2011, Keese directed his associates to deposit $20,000 into a Philadelphia bank.  The $20,000 was then withdrawn from a bank in Sacramento and transported to San Francisco.  Keese also received a bulk cash shipment of $42,000 concealed in a stereo tuner.

Further analysis of Keese’s financial records revealed that between 2007 and October 2011, between $2 million and $3 million was deposited in various bank accounts while the reported income for the 97-cent store was approximately $355,742 for the same time period.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the IRS Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Highway Patrol, the Sacramento Police Department, and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heiko P. Coppola and Kevin Khasigian prosecuted the case.

The investigation is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.


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