LEWISTON — An accounting firm was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland for failing to file cash transaction forms, according to U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank.

U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal ordered Leonardo & Co. to pay a $15,000 fine and forfeit $12,500. He also sentenced the firm to one year of probation.

Leonardo & Co. is located at 195 Center St. at the River Cities Professional Center.

Frank said that in 2017, agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division learned that Leonardo & Co. wrote four $12,500 checks to Brian Bilodeau, described as a member of a marijuana trafficking organization operating out of Androscoggin County in court records.

Court records show the checks written to Bilodeau were drawn on accounts associated with Leonardo & Co. and that the payments “did not involve a tax refund or payment for any services Bilodeau provided to the firm.”

“Instead, on each occasion, (Leonardo & Co.) exchanged the checks for $12,500 in cash,” according to the court records.

Frank said that since the checks involved the receipt of more than $10,000 in U.S. currency, Leonardo & Co. were required by federal law to file a Form 8300, which they failed to do.

The firm ended up “intentionally evading the mandated reporting requirements,” according to the court records.

Bilodeau was one of more than dozen people indicted on numerous felony drug charges stemming from federal raids in the Lewiston and Auburn area in February 2018.

The aim of the raids was to bust a medical marijuana-growing operation that illegally sold surplus pot and derivatives, according to police and federal drug agents.

Prosecutors alleged the drug-trafficking organization grew and distributed large amounts of marijuana under the cover of Maine’s medical marijuana program, but sold marijuana to buyers who were not participants in the program and included out-of-state customers and laundered the money through various area businesses.

Bilodeau was indicted on nine felony counts, including possession, manufacturing and trafficking of marijuana and money laundering.

He was in court on Oct. 3 to argue that the drug charges levied against him should be dismissed, citing a congressional act barring the U.S. Department of Justice from spending money on prosecutions for violation of federal drug laws against caregivers who are in compliance with their respective states’ medical marijuana laws.

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