Drug Enforcement Administration

New Orleans

Stephen G. Azzam, Special Agent in Charge

December 21, 2017

Contact: SA Debbie Webber

Phone Number: (504) 840-1100

Gentilly Resident Gets Over 10 Year Sentence For Money Laundering And Other Financial Crimes

NEW ORLEANS - Cornell Pendleton, age 51, of the Gentilly neighborhood in New Orleans, was sentenced today for his role in laundering money on behalf of heroin dealers in the New Orleans area, announced Drug Enforcement (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam and  Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.

A U.S. District Judge sentenced Pendleton to a term of incarceration of 121 months, followed by two years of supervised release.  The Judge also ordered Pendleton to pay a fine of $100,000. 

Following a weeklong trial, a jury found Pendleton guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering; numerous substantive money laundering offenses involving the purchase of real property and cars using illegal drug money; structuring his cash deposits; and providing false statements on loan applications.  The jury also found that Pendleton must forfeit over $700,000 in cash and assets that were involved in his criminal activities. 

According to the evidence presented trial, the case against Pendleton stemmed from a DEA investigation of a heroin-trafficking organization that operated in New Orleans East.  The original investigation, nicknamed “Wild Wild East,” began in 2013 and has since resulted in the conviction of twelve New Orleans-based heroin dealers. 

Through that investigation, the government began developing evidence that Pendleton was helping drug dealers to acquire high-end assets in an effort to conceal the proceeds of their drug operation.  These high-end assets included multiple cars, such as Mercedes, Porsche, Corvette, Bentley, and BMW; residential and investment real estate; jewelry, including Rolex watches; and other expensive items.  Pendleton’s scheme involved purchasing assets in his own name, and then allowing the drug dealers to use the assets while making sizable, off-the-books payments to Pendleton.  Once an asset was fully paid off, Pendleton would often transfer title of the asset back to the drug dealer.  Pendleton was paid entirely in cash for his assistance in acquiring these assets.  The evidence showed that, over a two and a half year period between 2012 and 2014, Pendleton deposited over $1.5 million in cash into four bank accounts, while knowing that the cash included illegal drug proceeds. 

This investigation was worked by the DEA, Kenner Police Department, and Border Patrol. 

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.  

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