Seven People Indicted in Alleged Drug, Money Laundering Scheme With PM-Drug Laundering, Bjt
BOSTON (AP) _ A member of the Bahamian parliament and a prominent Boston defense attorney were among seven people indicted in an alleged scheme to launder illegal drug profits, said acting U.S. Attorney Jeremiah O’Sullivan.
The indictment, returned a week ago and unsealed Wednesday, claims reputed drug mogul Salvatore M. Caruana made $7.5 million selling marijuana and then conspired with the other six defendants to invest and launder the money using ″front″ companies in the Bahamas, Panama and the United States.
Caruana has been a fugitive on the government’s most wanted list since 1984, when he jumped bail after being indicted for allegedly smuggling $173 million of mariujana into New England.
He is charged with racketeering and, along with the other six defendants, conspiring to defraud the IRS.
Kendal W. Nottage, 48, a member of the Bahamian Parliament and a former cabinet minister to Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, was charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government.
Nottage’s wife, Rubie, 45, also an attorney in Nassau, was one of four people charged with conspiring to violate federal racketeering laws.
Also indicted on racketeering and income tax charges were Boston attorneys Joseph J. Balliro, 61, who has represented a convicted Mafia defendant on conspiracy to defraud the IRS, and Edmund M. Hurley, 54, of Brookline, who has represented Caruana on civil matters.
The indictment accuses Nottage of transporting large sums of money to the Bahamas for Caruana and executing a false document that concealed Caruana’s interest in the island’s Islander Hotel, which was used to launder the money.
Both Nottages are accused in the indictment with lying about Caruana and their activities on his behalf to a special commission appointed by the Bahamian government to investigate drug trafficking there.
The couple released a statement Wednesday maintaining their innocence. The statement said Kendal Nottage simply negotiated a loan to payoff a mortgage loan on the hotel which he had owned and occupied since 1976, before he became a cabinet minister.
″To our knowledge, neither Kendal nor I have broken any law in the United States or at home here in the Bahamas,″ the statement said.
The Nottages have previously called the indictment, which has been expected, a political move by the United States to smear the Bahamas as a drug laundering center.
The indictment said Balliro threatened the owners of the Islander Hotel, who then sold the hotel to Kendal Nottage and a Bahamian company that Balliro knew was a Caruana ″front.″
Last week, Balliro held a news conference to deny any wrongdoing and called the charges to be brought against him a personal attack by the acting U.S. attorney.
O’Sullivan on Wednesday called Balliro’s claim that the charges resulted from personal animosity between the longtime prosecutor and the defender of organized crime figures ″a figment of Mr. Balliro’s imagination ... without basis in fact.″
Also indicted were David T. Gorwitz, 58, also a fugitive, and Charles R. Burnett, age 47, a Pompano Beach, Fla., attorney.