Car dealer sentenced into 30 months for illegal deals
A Shawnee Auto dealer has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for helping drug dealers buy vehicles used for drug trafficking without attracting the attention of law enforcement, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom.
Jon Lenie, 39, Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. In his plea, Lenie admitted that at Shawnee Auto Sales in Shawnee, Kan., he sold vehicles to drug traffickers for cash and made false reports to the state and the Internal Revenue Service on the transactions.
In 2008, Lenie met Curtis Crow, who was a member of a drug trafficking organization based in California that was distributing marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine from California to buyers in Kansas and Missouri. Crow introduced Lenie to another member of the drug ring, Caesar Bonilla-Montiel.
Over time, Lenie engaged in multiple transactions with the traffickers in which he accepted cash for cars and filed false paperwork.
In one instance in September 2008, Lenie sold Crow a 2004 Escalade for $16,500 in cash.
The cash was wrapped in tape and Lenie counted it in the office of Shawnee Auto Sales. Lenie had the paperwork drawn up to reflect a purchase price of less than $9,000.
By doing so, he kept the transaction below the threshold for filing a federal Form 8300 to report the transaction to the IRS. Lenie also arranged for one of Crow’s associates to have his name on the paperwork as the buyer even though Crow was the true buyer.
During the transaction, Lenie said he would have to take his time depositing so much cash into his checking account to keep from attracting attention.
In another instance, Leni allowed Crow and Montiel to leave a Nissan Altima at Shawnee Auto Sales to have the door repaired.
Leni knew that the door needed repairs because the traffickers had removed $75,000 in cash hidden inside a door panel.
Crow and Montiel then paid Lenie $30,000 in cash to purchase a Maserati. They paid him in cash that had been hidden in the door panel of the Nissan Altima.
In another instance, undercover officers talked to Lenie about buying a 2006 Acura TSX for $15,950 in cash.
They told him they had to sell some marijuana before they could complete the transaction.
He told them he could help avoid law enforcement’s notice by preparing paperwork saying the car sold for $9,800.
• Curtis Crow, who is set for sentencing is set for sentencing Oct. 24.
• Caesar Bonilla-Montiel, who is set for sentencing Oct. 24.
Grissom commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken for their work on the case.
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