Man pleads guilty in scheme that spanned from Fresno to Alabama and Texas

August 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The last of seven suspects pleaded guilty Monday in a drug and money laundering scheme that federal agents say spanned from Fresno to Alabama and Texas. Investigators say the group was growing marijuana and shipping it across the country, but pretending it was for medical dispensaries.

Damone Kelley handled the money and deposited it into a relative's bank account, according to court records. He is also the man who federal agents say used a semi-tractor trailer to transport marijuana to Birmingham Alabama.

According to a plea entered today, Kelley admitted to structuring more than $65,000 in cash from a marijuana trafficking group into a bank account that belonged to a family member.

Investigators say the marijuana was grown at a rural location on Marks Avenue in Fresno. Court records allege the defendants opened up a medical marijuana dispensary in the tower district as a cover up for the illegal operation.

"One defendant admitted he received almost $700,000 and that he structured it. In other words, he had it taken out in less than $10,000 at a time, that 693 some odd thousand dollars. So it's a very profitable enterprise," Kevin Rooney, Federal Prosecutor said.

Federal agents say the scheme was carried out for several years. Investigators believe the group transported the marijuana across the nation to make close to three times more in profit.

Kelley is facing a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Some other defendants, including those who prosecutors say are the ringleaders face up to 40 years in prison.


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