McDowell County Pharmacist Admits Crimes Tied To Gambling

From the Charleston Gazette today:

Yesterday Saad Kamil Deeb, a Welch Pharmacist, pled guilty to a 3 count information, charging him with enlisting others to help him conduct transactions at a McDowell County bank so that he could move large amounts of money without triggering a Currency Transaction Report. A financial institution is required to file such a report with the Internal Revenue Service for any transaction over $10,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hunter Smith said that between 2001 and 2005, Deeb became heavily involved in gambling on sports, betting large sums of money and even placing bets on behalf of his friends.
Whether he won or lost, his gambling proceeds or debts were paid in cash, Smith said. Usually, the amounts would approach $100,000 before Deeb or his bookies paid up, he said. “Mr. Deeb did not want the IRS to know that he was engaged in large cash transactions,” Smith said. So he and the others would keep their transactions under the $10,000 ceiling, Smith said, sometimes transferring just under that amount to various accounts several days in a row. According to the information, Deeb and his associates moved more than $871,000 that way over a four-year period. Deeb also admitted skimming cash from the pharmacy and filing false tax returns in 2003 and 2004, failing to report roughly $300,000 in income for each year, resulting in a tax loss of $175,000. Deeb has since filed amended reports and caught up on the taxes he owes, Smith said.

Who knew that a small town pharmacy could make that much so as to skim $300,000 per year for a gambling habit (addiction)? It makes you wonder who is at fault for the high prices of prescription drugs… My grandfather was a small town pharmacist, and for part of my life I grew up in his pharmacy. Things must have changed a lot since then… or maybe that is just par for the course in McDowell County….

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.

Federal Judge Rejects Plea at Hearing

From the Charleston Gazette:

Note: If the woman is telling the truth, then bravo for the judge to immediately halt the hearing, as there is no basis for the plea and the lady is being railroaded. However, there may be other evidence that she is not telling the truth. For instance, there may be a prior statement given by the defendant. It is doubtful that her attorney would advise her to take this plea if there was no other evidence other than the fact that she actually mailed the package. But, if there is not, then she should not accept the plea. Defendants should never be forced to accept a plea even though they are innocent, just because a conviction is possible. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney.

Crime details lacking, so judge rejects plea

By Andrew Clevenger
Staff writer

A plea hearing in federal court came to an abrupt end on Thursday, after a Mingo County woman accused of laundering drug money said she had no idea what was in a package she allegedly mailed.

Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin asked Lorene Canterbury of Dingess to explain exactly what she did to constitute the crime of money laundering.

“I mailed a package from Naugatuck, West Virginia,” she said. The package, which she sent to Chicago, contained two books she bought at Books-A-Million and a manila envelope, she said.

When Goodwin asked her what was in the envelope, Canterbury said she didn’t know.

“Honestly, I can’t say, but I’m taking responsibility for it,” she replied. “I thought it was a T-shirt.”

Goodwin immediately halted the proceeding.

“This plea hearing is over,” he said. “I reject the plea.”

The judge then stood up and walked out of the courtroom.

Canterbury was charged via an information, which generally indicates a defendant is cooperating with authorities. An information cannot be filed without a defendant’s permission.

According to the information, Canterbury allegedly mailed $54,000 in cash on Sept. 17, 2003, for the purpose of laundering the proceeds of powder cocaine sales.

After the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Hanks said the case was now back to square one, as if nothing had ever happened.

When plea deals are rejected by a judge, prosecutors can continue investigating cases and try to get an indictment from a grand jury, or lawyers for both sides can discuss another agreement, he said.

To contact staff writer Andrew Clevenger, use e-mail or call 348-1723.

Former State Senator Sentenced to 2 Years

As detailed in the Charleston Gazette today, former WV State Senator Lisa Smith was sentenced to 2 years in federal prison in Alderson, and must pay the IRS 1.3 million dollars. As has been previously covered in the West Virginia Political Sweatbox Blog, this is a shining example of how politicians – especially in West Virginia – believe that they are above the law.

West Virginia legislators are like Robin Hood’s Sheriff of Nottingham. They are siphoning off every dime earned by our hard-working citizens (and then giving every dime to our non-working citizens), all-the-while lining their own pockets with silver and gold.

As an interesting side-note, at the sentencing Lisa Smith’s attorney, Tom Smith, argued that she should be given a lesser sentence because she is supposedly bipolar. He stated that “the spending, the irrational thought — that is the behavior that brings us here. Everything she did is consistent with bipolar disorder. You’re behind on your taxes so you start gift shopping? That’s not rational behavior.” Federal District Court Judge Robert C. Chambers rightly responded that her circumstances were more the result of “her greed and her arrogant pursuit of public office.” – John H. Bryan, Attorney at Law