John Willis, also known as Bac Guai, or “White Devil John,” has pled guilty to dealing oxycodone and money laundering on an indictment that painted him as the nexus among low-level Asian gangs that ran rackets in Chinatown, including drug dealing, gambling, and prostitution. Willis was a white male enforcer from Dorchester who quietly emerged as a leader among Chinatown’s Asian gangs, historically known for insulating themselves from outsiders. Willis had been introduced to the neighborhood’s underworld when he was about 12 years old, learning to speak Cantonese, and being essentially adopted by a Chinese family. Following the leaders of the violent and once-powerful Ping On Gang, Willis launched a career in drug sales that spanned more than two decades.
Money laundering in Jacksonville is a scheme by which funds that are generated by illegal activities are concealed, disguised, washed, or “laundered”, making the money appear legitimate to evade detection, prosecution, seizure and taxation by the government. If one has a large amount of cash that appears quickly, one’s newly shown assets could appear suspicious, typically resulting in the bank reporting a hefty deposit or withdrawal to authorities who will then investigate the potential crime. Remember that just because money laundering is typically non-violent in nature, does not necessarily translate into lesser penalties. The reason for this is because of a strong public policy against fraud and the other crimes that are typically associated with money laundering, including, sometimes, violent crimes.
As a means of discovering illegal activities, the federal and Florida governments have enacted laws to detect large sums of cash entering legitimate business channels. Under the bank Secrecy Act of 1970, passed by congress to help fight money laundering in the country, requires banks to report transactions that amount to $10,000 or more. The act also requires the reporting of foreign bank accounts and other foreign financial accounts. Failure to report these things can lead to investigation by the federal government.
Recently, the FBI and Attorney General’s office has dramatically increased prosecution of money laundering crime because of laundering’s suspected link to financing terrorism. The federal government is levying more money laundering charges against potential defendants, devoting more resources toward decreasing the time taken to convict those accused of money laundering.
One could be accused of money laundering for a variety of reasons, including:
– Concealing the source of funds placed in a bank account or invested in a business,
– Failing to report large cash transactions, OR
– Failing to provide due diligence in determining the source of large amounts of money
Money laundering crimes typically carry a sentence of up to twenty years in Federal prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the money laundered. In Florida, the penalties for money laundering are extremely harsh and vary depending upon the amount of money laundered.
– $301-$19,999 within a 12 month period – 3rd degree felony (up to 5 years in state prison).
– $20,000-$99,999 within a 12 month period – 2nd degree felony (up to 15 years in state prison).
– $100,000 and above – 1st degree felony (up to 30 years in state prison).
The State and Federal government can legally force forfeiture of large sums of money from groups and organizations that can be traced directly to criminal activity, but also any money that is “commingled” with the tainted money. In other words, the government can seize the entire balance of any certain bank account if they can connect it to money laundering, even if the amount traced to illegal activity is only a small portion.
If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes defense attorney, one’s attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence and argue any potential defenses to one’s possession of the illegal substance either on one’s person or in one’s home.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source:White leader in Chinatown gang facing prison, Milton J. Valencia, The Boston Globe