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More arrests in oxy ring roundup

Suspects arrested in California, Ohio

Posted: December 12, 2011 - 5:45am

More have been arrested in an ongoing federal California to Juneau oxycodone ring conspiracy case, and are expected to be transported and arraigned in U.S. District Court in Juneau.

On Thursday, U.S. Marshals executed an arrest warrant on Brenna Hauenstein, who was picked up in the Columbus, Ohio, area. Ariana Dixon and Hilary Herndon were arrested in the Eastern District of California in late November, as was the only confirmed Juneau resident, SallyJean Maki.

They are four of six defendants indicted by a federal grand jury in October on one count of drug conspiracy for knowingly and intentionally conspiring with each other to distribute oxycodone. That’s a violation of U.S. law that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

All defendants also face money laundering charges for making illegal financial transactions at either True North Federal Credit Union, Wells Fargo Bank, MoneyGram or Western Union.

Testimony this week in court at a bail hearing revealed Maki is suspected of depositing drug money into Milan Thomas’ bank accounts.

“She was given money from the sale of oxycontin, and she would deposit that into Milan’s accounts at True North and Wells Fargo,” Juneau Police Department Officer Lee Phelps told U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah M. Smith, who appeared via video conference in Anchorage. Phelps is with JPD’s drug enforcement unit.

It’s against U.S. law to make financial transactions involving the proceeds of an unlawful activity, and knowing that such transaction was designed to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the proceeds, or in this case, the drug money.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt said in an earlier interview Maki was “essentially lying about the source of the proceeds,” and that she had “indicated that they were coming from legitimate sources.”

That charge has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and a $500,000 fine, or twice the amount laundered, whichever is greater.

Maki entered a not guilty plea after she was arraigned Nov. 30. Smith denied an oral motion by Maki’s lawyer to release her from custody with conditions attached, and Maki was ordered to enter a drug rehabilitation treatment center upon completion of a physical, according to electronic court records. Her trial is scheduled for Jan. 31.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows ordered both Dixon and Herndon to be transported from Chico, Calif., to Juneau to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie C. Longenbaugh on Dec. 15. Lawyers for both have requested that time to be pushed back until later this month.

The six defendants were the target of a multi agency investigation, Schmidt had said earlier, headed by the drug task force at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Drug Enforcement Agency assisting.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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