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Oxy ring conspiracy leader expected to plead guilty

Posted: May 7, 2012 - 11:01pm

An oxycodone ring leader accused of running a $1 million drug operation and distributing about 13,000 oxycodone pills has agreed to plead guilty to drug conspiracy and money laundering charges, according to federal court documents.

Milan Thomas filed a notice of intent to change his plea and to enter into a plea agreement through his attorney on Friday. A proposed plea agreement was entered into an online court docket Monday.

According to charging documents, Thomas conspired to distribute oxycodone from Sacramento, Calif., to Juneau between 2007 and 2011, then conspired to launder the drug money into various financial institutions.

During the course of the conspiracy, Thomas and a co-conspirator transported the drugs on their person from Juneau to California via commercial airplanes, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt.

Schmidt said they also used drug couriers to transport oxycodone to Alaska and transported drug proceeds back to California, and used commercial package delivery services to transport oxycodone to conspirators in Juneau for subsequent distribution.

Thomas directed his co-conspirators to make cash deposits or withdrawals of the drug proceeds as receipts from a fraudulent business front called Southeast Alaska Tour Co., Schmidt alleged. Thomas also directed them to make cash deposits and withdrawals under the federal reporting requirements in order to avoid detection of law enforcement, Schmidt said.

Cash drug proceeds were deposited into and laundered through Thomas’ True North Credit Union account in Juneau, and two of the co-conspirators’ Wells Fargo bank accounts in Juneau.

The amount of drug money that passed through those bank accounts, as well as money transfer services such as MoneyGram and Western Union, totaled $1,323,439.95, Schmidt said.

The average price of an 80 milligram oxycodone pill sold by Thomas and his conspirators was $100, which equates to 13,624 pills, according to Schmidt.

Thomas was originally indicted by a federal grand jury in October on one count of drug conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy. Five of his known co-conspirators, who are listed in the same indictment, are Hilary Herdon, Ariana Dixon, Jennifer McGrath, Brenna Hauenstein and SallyJean Maki, all of Juneau.

Maki’s husband Brent Maki and another man Jason Rivera have since been charged in connection to the conspiracy. They were indicted on drug conspiracy charges in February.

Thomas successfully eluded police, but was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service in Minneapolis on Feb. 29.

According to the proposed plea agreement, Thomas has agreed to plead guilty to all four counts, which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

There are no statutory maximum or minimum sentencing guidelines for the charges to which Thomas is expected to plead guilty.

Schmidt, who did not return phone calls and messages Monday, did not propose any sentencing recommendations.

A court date has not yet been set for the change of plea hearing. Thomas’ attorney Randall S. Cavanugh requested it be held in Anchorage in December.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska said the Drug Enforcement Agency, D-22 High Intensity Drug Interdiction Task Force in Seattle, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, Port of Seattle Police Department and Juneau Police Department Metro Drug Unit conducted the investigations leading to the indictments in this case.

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

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