A 26-year-old Juneau woman has pleaded guilty to laundering money as part of a Sacramento-to-Juneau oxycodone drug ring conspiracy.
Court records show SallyJean Maki changed her plea on Feb. 13 in U.S. District Court in Juneau and is scheduled to be sentenced in May.
Prosecutors charge that Maki agreed to deposit drug proceeds into a True North Federal Credit Union account owned by Milan Thomas who claimed them as business receipts for his fraudulent business front called Southeast Alaska Tour Company. Maki deposited $25,100 in drug money into Thomas’ account in Juneau between July 2010 and August 2011, according to the plea agreement.
Maki was indicted in October of last year on one count of drug conspiracy for oxycodone and one count of money laundering conspiracy, according to the indictment. The plea deal dismisses the drug conspiracy charge as she pleaded guilty to the money laundering charge.
Money laundering conspiracy, a violation of U.S. law, can carry up to 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Maki was one of six defendants indicted by a federal grand jury for knowingly and intentionally conspiring with each other to distribute oxycodone, a violation of U.S. law that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Also listed were Milan Thomas, Hilary Herndon, Brenna Hauenstein, Ariana Dixon and Jennifer McGrath.
According to court papers filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt, it appears Herndon and Thomas were the leaders of the drug ring. During the course of the conspiracy, Herndon and Thomas transported oxycodone and drug proceeds on their person from California to Juneau via commercial air carriers, used drug couriers to transport oxycodone to Alaska and transport drug money back to California, and utilized commercial package delivery services to transport oxycodone to conspirators in Juneau for subsequent distribution.
On Nov. 21, 2009, Thomas was contacted at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport airport while traveling from Alaska to California, and DEA agents seized $28,800 in drug money from him. On March 29, 2010, Herndon was also contacted at the SeaTac airport while traveling from Alaska to California, and DEA agents seized $9,900 in drug money from her.
Schmidt wrote Herndon and Thomas used Thomas’ True North bank account and Herndon’s Wells Fargo Bank account to make cash deposits of drug proceeds. They also used Dixon’s account to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the drug money. Thomas and Herndon directed other co-conspirators in Juneau to make cash deposits or withdrawals of the drug money, which were concealed as receipts from the Southeast Alaska Tour Company. Herndon and Thomas further directed co-conspirators to make cash deposits and withdrawals under the federal reporting requirements in order to avoid detection of law enforcement.
The amount of drug money deposited into Thomas’ True North account in Juneau and withdrawn in California totaled about $322,000. The amount in Herndon’s Wells Fargo account in Juneau, which was withdrawn in California, was $765,000. The amount of drug proceeds deposited into Dixon’s Juneau Wells Fargo Bank account by co-conspirators and withdrawn at the direction of Thomas and Herndon by Dixon in California, totaled $22,875.
The amount of cash deposits resulting from drug proceeds that passed through the three bank accounts totaled $1,109,875. The total amount of the drug proceeds, including the $38,700 in cash seized from Thomas and Herndon at the airport, brings the amount of traceable drug proceeds to $1,148,575.
The average price of an 80 milligram pill sold by the defendants was $100, which equates to 11,485 of total pills sold. Those pills contain about 918 actual grams of oxycodone.
Juneau Police Department spokesman Lt. David Campbell said while drug dealers would sell pills to their drug runners for $100 a pill, the actual street value once they reached the customer is usually much higher. When Campbell supervised the JPD drug unit for four years from 2006 to 2009, he said the minimum price was around $150 per pill, and could go up to $275 per pill, depending on the supply and source.
Court records show that Thomas remains at large and a warrant is still out for his arrest.
Herndon and Dixon were both arrested in the Eastern District of California in late November. Herndon pleaded guilty last week to one count of drug conspiracy and one count of money laundering conspiracy. Dixon pleaded guilty on Feb. 1 to one count of money laundering conspiracy before Judge Timothy Burgess in Juneau, and her sentencing hearing is scheduled for May.
Hauenstein was arrested in early December and has agreed to plead guilty to one count of drug conspiracy and one count of money laundering conspiracy. Her change of plea hearing is scheduled for March 16 in Juneau before Judge Burgess.
In a written proposed plea agreement, Schmidt says Hauenstein admits to receiving oxycodone from drug couriers, distributing the oxycodone in Juneau and collecting the resulting drug proceeds from January until June of 2010. She then deposited the cash into Thomas’ bank account, falsely identifying them as receipts for the tour company.
Court records show McGrath was arrested in the Eastern District of California in late January, and has expressed her wishes to plead guilty. Her change of plea hearing is scheduled for May before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Longenbaugh in Juneau.
Beginning in January 2009, McGrath acted as a drug courier and transported oxycodone on her person from California to Juneau, according to the proposed plea. Schmidt wrote that McGrath transported about 300 80 milligram pills during the five flights she made to Juneau from various locations in California for a total of 1,500 pills.
On July 22, 2010, DEA agents contacted her at SeaTac while she traveled from Alaska to California, and they seized $6,870 in drug proceeds from her person.
Schmidt wrote McGrath also sent drug money via wire transfers using Money Gram and Western Union. The total amount of drug proceeds passed through wire-transfers is $14,264, and including the $6,870 seized at the airport, the total amount of traceable drug proceeds totals $21,134. That equates to about an additional 211 80 milligram pills, which would contains 16.88 actual grams of oxycodone.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.