Federal criminal case highlights Akwesasne money laundering and informant network

SYRACUSE – The federal criminal case against William D. Humphries has now begun in Syracuse, New York.

The South Carolina tobacco farmer is accused of money-laundering on the Akwesasne Territory at the tribal class 2 Mohawk Bingo Palace, from 2006 to 2009. He has also been accused of conspiring to manufacture tobacco products without a license, as well as conspiring to commit wire fraud to avoid Canadian taxes. Humphries could face 30 years in federal prison if convicted of the charges.

The amount of money-laundering alleged in the case is $2.2 million in American currency and $50,000 in Canadian currency. Humphries was pulled over by police in 2006 and $88,000 in American currency was seized as evidence in the case. A drug-sniffing dog alerted police to the evidence location.

Humphries was a business partner of Akwesasne residents Pat Johnson and Hank Cook. Johnson and Cook were cigarette manufacturers.

Their business was called “Mohawks Have Pride” (MHP). Johnson also admitted to marijuana trafficking during his efforts as a confidential informant for the federal government, while speaking with Humphries as he wore a hidden microphone.

Mr. Humphries contends that he held a tobacco license from the Mohawk Nation for his tobacco sales. The federal prosecutors have argued that tribal members Johnson and Cook utilized a third party to obtain a tribal tobacco manufacturing license for their cigarettes.

The criminal charges also allege that Humphries, Johnson and Cook all conspired to sell their cigarettes on the Canadian black market.

The money-laundering activity that Humphries is accused of was documented by the tribal gaming enterprise. According to published reports, Humphries engaged in 208 counts of exchanging “marijuana smelling cash” through class 2 electronic bingo devices to receive cash-out redeemable tickets.

Prior to the beginning of the trial, federal prosecutors dropped 30 of the counts that were not in the “best interests” of the United States to prosecute.

Humphries was filmed by tribal gaming surveillance operators each time he entered the Mohawk Bingo Palace after he was determined to be a “regular” customer by the St. Regis tribal gaming commission. Defense Attorney Douglas Dollinger refutes charges that his client was money-laundering in any way.

Dollinger says that Humphries has a winning system, and can make $7,200 a month from the class 2 equipment. As to the 208 original criminal counts, Attorney Dollinger says that Humphries’ system requires a lot of playing time to achieve jackpot success.

Prosecution witness Pat Johnson gathered evidence against Mr. Humphries during undercover recording sessions. The MHP owners paid for Humphries tobacco crops with proceeds from their marijuana trade.

In one recording, Johnson asserted that the tobacco payment from MHP was in “dope money” during a taped telephone conversation.

According to trial documents, Humphries allegedly responded to Johnson that the MHP payments physically burned his hands due to the marijuana-saturated currency. Humphries also responded in the recording that he could get rid of the cash in some way.

Defense Attorney Dollinger acknowledged that Humphries handled a lot of cash due to his farming profession.

Dollinger also confirmed that his client had won $240,000 over a period of time of twenty months while he played the gaming machines at the Mohawk Bingo Palace. Humphries is not attending the trial.

He was involved in a 2010 car accident and has suffered memory loss due to a serious brain injury sustained at that time.

His memory of details related to the case has been impaired, according to his attorney.
The federal prosecution case asserts that he sought to hide $1.9 million American dollars in illicit proceeds despite these claims.

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