Attorney Files Against Properties and Bank Accounts Involved in Illegal Marijuana Production

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Sacramento Bail Bonds

SACRAMENTO, CA-United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the filing of two civil forfeiture complaints targeting actual property and also the execution of a seizure warrant for bank accounts, all of which had been used for purposes of commercial marijuana production. A civil forfeiture complaint was filed late Thursday against a parcel of actual property in Butte County owned by Salvador Rocha which was becoming used for marijuana production, and a seizure warrant was recently executed for funds in 3 bank accounts belonging to an associate of Rocha’s. A separate forfeiture complaint was filed last month in an unrelated case against 5 parcels of real property situated in Trinity County owned by Lapoe Smith, which had been also being utilized for the production of marijuana.

Butte County Property

On November 10, 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Workplace filed a civil forfeiture complaint against a 40-acre property on Deer Valley Road in Bangor. The rural Butte County property was bought by Salvador Rocha, an Arizona resident, in March 2010. Based on the complaint, it was purchased with over $100,000 in structured monetary transactions in violation of federal law.

Based on the complaint, Rocha has two recent marijuana arrests, and was arrested in the topic property on September 26, 2011, for a violation in the terms of his probation. The complaint indicates that the property was becoming used to cultivate marijuana. Officers at the website observed marijuana plants, a brand new commercial grade marijuana trimming machine filled with marijuana buds, rows of marijuana plants drying inside among the outbuildings, and four big tubs of dried marijuana waiting to become hand-trimmed. The other individual present at the property was Peter Bostrom.

Rocha bought the property for $102,500 in cash on March 10, 2010. As described in the complaint, the investigation revealed that the funds used to buy the property included at least 84 cash orders bought at numerous places, and five cashiers’ checks bought at 3 various banks, in between February 25 and March 9, 2010. Each in the money orders was in an quantity under $3,000, that is the amount which banks are needed to record in a monetary instrument log under federal regulations. Each in the cashier’s checks was in an quantity of $10,000 or much less; federal law requires monetary institutions issuing a check in excess of $10,000 to file a Currency Transaction Report. Under federal anti-money laundering laws, it is illegal to break down a single sum of currency exceeding $10,000 into smaller sums for the purpose of evading the filings of Currency Transaction Reports. It is also illegal to break down transactions into smaller sums to try to evade the $3,000 monetary instrument record keeping regulations.

Bank Accounts

The seizure warrants executed recently were for three bank accounts in the name of Rocha’s associate, Peter Bostrom. According to the affidavit in support in the seizure warrants, an investigation into financial transactions involving the accounts revealed that in between July 6, 2011 and September 8, 2011, at least $135,750 was deposited into the bank accounts at six different bank branches situated in New Jersey and New York, each in amounts under $10,000, an alleged violation of federal anti-money laundering laws. At least $67,000 of those deposits was withdrawn inside a matter of days in the Eastern District of California.

Trinity County Properties

On October 14, 2011, the United States filed a civil forfeiture complaint against 5 parcels of property in Trinity County owned by LaPoe Smith, which the complaint alleges were becoming utilized for marijuana production. The complaint alleges that the properties had been purchased on Might 13, 2010 for roughly $161,000. About $121,000 of the buy cash had been structured into an escrow account through the use of dozens of cash orders, cashier’s checks and bank checks bought in San Antonio, Texas. Based on the complaint, between April 20, 2010 and May 10, 2010, two bank checks and eight cashier’s checks totalling $50,000, every in increments of $10,000 and beneath, had been bought at multiple places in San Antonio. During that same period, roughly 75 cash orders totalling $71,222 in increments of $1,000 and beneath were purchased at multiple locations in San Antonio. Based on public reports, Smith, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, is an NBA and NFL player agent and manages and oversees player’s contracts and finances.

U.S. Attorney Wagner stated: “The commercial cultivation of marijuana is a violation of federal law, and commercial marijuana cultivators who try to mask their activity via structuring their monetary transactions in violation of anti-money laundering laws can expect to have their property seized and forfeited.”

One can imagine the Sacramento Bail Bonds involved in this case. They are all probably over $100,000. That being said the costs for working with a bail bonds company with these sizes of bail bonds should be pretty immense. Each defendant with the $100K bail would need 10% of the total bail. That would be $10,000. This is a state regulated fee beset upon by the California Department of Insurance. Even if the defendants were able to come up with $10,000, the judge might place a PC 1275.1 hold on them. This means the defendants would have to prove that the monies came from legal sources that are not involved in the accounts that are associated with this case.

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