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Ten Car Dealers Charged With Money Laundering

January 15, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ten automobile dealerships were charged Thursday with participating in a money-laundering scheme by selling 15 cars for large amounts of cash to undercover agents posing as drug dealers.

The car dealerships were named along with an insurance company and 19 managers and salesmen in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury here.

U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens said the defendants are accused of accepting large amounts of cash from the undercover law enforcement agents who had posed as drug dealers when they bought 15 cars ranging in price from $20,000 to $50,000.

The agents told the salesmen that they wanted the cars to either transport more drugs, reward employees of their drug-dealing operations or to launder cash, Stephens said.

Stephens said the defendants arranged with the undercover officers to deliver the cars in Washington with false insurance and registration papers so the cars could not be traced.

Charged in the indictments were: Rosenthal Toyota of Landover, Md.; Lustine Chevrolet of Hyattsville, Md.; Lustine Nissan of Lanham, Md.; Geneva Enterprises Inc., doing business as seven Rosenthal dealerships in Maryland and Virginia; Pyramid Insurance Inc., and 19 individuals and salesmen who worked at the dealerships.

Prosecutors also seek the forfeiture of all of the money paid to the dealerships, as well as the real estate comprising the Lustine Hyattsville location - a total of $1.7 million.

″Money laundering is the lifeblood of narcotics trafficking,″ Stephens said. ″Those who launder the profits of drug traffickers ignore the human devastation of drugs and choose instead to feed their own greed by willingly supplying the luxuries of life to those who prey on our community.″