U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett announced Tuesday afternoon the indictment of John "Jay" Carter, age 48, of Evansville, who is alleged to have engaged in a scheme to launder drug proceeds for an Evansville-area marijuana trafficking operation.
Carter, a local businessman who is named in public documents as an appointed member of the Evansville Redevelopment Commission, faces prosecution as the U.S. Attorney's Office has redoubled efforts to combat fraud and waste by public officials in Indiana through the launch of a Public Integrity Working Group.
"These allegations are troubling not just because they involve criminal acts by someone in a position of public trust, but also because these acts were allegedly on behalf of individuals bringing hundreds of pounds of drugs into the Evansville-area," Hogsett said. "As unfortunate as these cases are, I hope today's announcement sends a message to those who occupy positions of trust that it doesn't matter who you are, or who you know – no one is above the law."
According to the indictment, Adrian Davison and Aaron Hardiman, two Evansville-area residents, were engaged in the trafficking of large quantities of marijuana in Southwest Indiana. The scheme allegedly involved the regular importation of hundreds of pounds of marijuana, which would then be distributed locally to other drug dealers and drug users. These activities resulted in large amounts of cash proceeds for Davison, Hardiman, and others associated with their alleged criminal activity.
The indictment alleges that Carter agreed to assist the three men in their efforts to launder these significant cash proceeds by facilitating real estate transfers, business deals, financial transactions, and in at least one case testifying before the Evansville Public Safety Committee in support of the awarding of a city contract that benefited the three men.
Purchases and transactions alleged by the indictment to have been part of the scheme include the following:
In addition, it is alleged that in late 2011, as part of the conspiracy to launder money, Carter approached another local towing company and suggested they partner with Shaggy's Towing in a bid on the Evansville city towing contract. Carter allegedly told the company that Shaggy's Towing was a minority and female-owned business, and the partnership would improve their chances of being granted the city contract. The company agreed, and Carter subsequently spoke on behalf of the two companies before the City Public Safety Board, which ultimately granted the partnership the city towing contract on April 25, 2012.
Hogsett said this case was the result of outstanding law enforcement work by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations Division, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration in Evansville. Both agencies are partners in the U.S. Attorney's Public Integrity Working Group, which was launched in April 2012 with the stated purpose of aggressively investigating allegations of public fraud, waste and abuse by public officials in Indiana. Hoosiers with information on public corruption are encouraged to contact the U.S. Attorney's Office at (317) 229-2443.
"IRS-Criminal Investigation is united with the rest of the law enforcement community in our resolve to financially disrupt criminal organizations that commit crimes against our society," said Special Agent in Charge James C. Lee. "When public officials commit crimes, whether as part of their official duties or in their private lives, they are violating the public trust."
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew P. Brookman, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Carter has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, six counts of money laundering, one count of illegally structuring a currency transaction, and one count of providing a false statement to law enforcement.
If convicted on all counts, Carter faces up to 20 years in prison, significant fines, and years of supervised release at the end of his prison term.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke has released a statement about this case:
"I'd like to recognize law enforcement, including the detectives from the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Narcotics Joint Task Force for working with the Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force, U.S. Attorney's Office and the Internal Revenue Service on today's indictments related to a suspected drug and money laundering operation in our community."
"I wholeheartedly agree with U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett that no one, including an appointed public official, is above the law and we look forward to resolution of this case."
He continues, "It is important to note, and reaffirmed by the U.S. Attorney, that this indictment did not name or associate the Evansville Redevelopment Commission with any of the suspected crimes. Questions about Mr. Carter's service on the Commission should be directed to his appointing body."
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