December 13, 2013

Portland man to forfeit yacht, $400,000 cash in drug smuggling case

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A Portland man has agreed to forfeit nearly $400,000 in cash, and luxury items ranging from jewelry to a power yacht, as part of a plea agreement on charges that he was running a large-scale interstate marijuana-smuggling operation.

David Jones, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland to two counts of conspiracy to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and two counts of conspiracy to launder money. A charge of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana was dropped.

Jones faces up to 40 years in federal prison on each of the drug charges and fines of up to $8 million each. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each of the money-laundering charges and fines of up to $500,000 each.

All the items Jones agreed to forfeit were “obtained directly or indirectly” as a result of marijuana smuggling and money laundering, according to a preliminary forfeiture order signed by Judge George Singal. The order does not mention whether the plea deal calls for a reduced sentence.

The forfeiture list includes money and possessions seized in multiple locations in Maine – nearly $300,000 cash from a Gorham storage unit, possessions from his Portland home at 39 Colonial Road, recording equipment from a music studio at 2 Main Street in Biddeford, and recreational vehicles from addresses in East Baldwin and Limington. The list includes a 2008 Chevrolet pickup, a 2009 Cadillac, a 2005 Suzuki motorcycle, a 2012 Big Buck tandem trailer, a Jet-ski, a snowmobile, three all-terrain vehicles, a 40-foot 1988 Silverton motor yacht, big-screen televisions and jewelry. No dollar value was given for the seized items.

Jones, who goes by the nickname David Kaos, became the target of a federal investigation in 2012 after a friend who was also involved in the drug business was arrested in Kansas while driving about 100 pounds of marijuana from California to Maine, according to an affidavit filed in October by Paul Wolf, an agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The friend, who is unidentified in court records, told police after being arrested Sept. 5, 2012, that Jones had had 5,500 pounds of marijuana shipped to him from California in 2011 and 2012 using the U.S. Postal Service.

The friend told police that Jones had traveled to California before Sept. 5 and was driving back to Maine in a separate vehicle. The two had planned to meet that night at a hotel in Ellsworth, Kan.

Kansas authorities arrested Jones later that day a few blocks from the hotel. It is unclear from court records in Maine whether Jones was charged with any crime in Kansas. He had about $8,000 in cash, the records show, and was later released.

Authorities in Maine then searched Jones’ former home in Scarborough, where they found cash, a money counter and receipts from the law firm of Jones’ former attorney reflecting cash payments.

The attorney is not named in court documents. But records indicate the attorney has been identified and may be under investigation.

“The investigation of the financial relationship between Jones and the attorney revealed that the financial dealings between Jones and the attorney were not within the scope of an attorney-client relationship but rather that the attorney and Jones were partners in several businesses and real estate transactions,” Wolf said in the affidavit.

Authorities used a wiretap on Jones’ phone after his release by Kansas authorities and intercepted “numerous” calls and text messages. They also examined banking records, property deeds and a vehicle bill of sale, according to court records.

Jones has been in custody since his arrest Oct. 4 on the federal charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April, when the forfeiture order would become final.

Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

Twitter: @scottddolan

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