Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Bowling Green attorney pleads guilty in money laundering sportsbook case

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Bowling Green real estate attorney H. Harris Pepper, Jr. entered a guilty plea to money laundering, announced United States Attorney Russell Coleman.

“The rule of law means that everyone is held to the same standard, to include attorneys and influential members of communities like Bowling Green,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “This result is the product of a diligent career federal prosecutor and strong investigative work by the IRS.”

“Legal professionals are held to high ethical standards. Harris Pepper, Jr., a trusted real estate attorney, went to great lengths to conceal the true ownership of several real estate investments,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “The IRS will take every step to ferret out those who conspire to launder the proceeds earned from illegal sports gambling.”

Pepper was initially charged with the single count in a felony information on February 14, 2020.

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According to a plea agreement, from 2008 through 2016, Pepper conspired with Douglas Booth to conceal proceeds of Booth’s illegal sports-gambling operation in Bowling Green. Pepper conspired with Booth to launder proceeds of the illegal gambling operation into real estate investments.

During the course of the conspiracy, Booth purchased a percentage ownership of Hard Six, LLC, by providing $125,000 in cash to Pepper. Hard Six owned real estate and buildings that it leased to Dollar General Store, Inc. Both Pepper and Booth knew the investment from Booth were proceeds from unlawful activity.

In 2010, Booth attempted to purchase a percentage ownership of an apartment complex on Louisville Road in Bowling Green, by providing $90,000 in cash to Pepper. Both men knew portions of the proceeds invested were from illegal activity. Pepper did not document or record Booth as an owner in the apartment complex in order to conceal Booth’s involvement in the transaction.

From 2009 through 2016, Booth purchased and maintained a percentage of ownership of HAAM Investments, LLC, by providing approximately $250,000 in cash to Pepper. HAAM Investments was created for use and purchase of an apartment complex in Russellville. Both Pepper and Booth knew portions of proceeds invested were from unlawful activity. Pepper transferred his ownership of HAAM Investments in July 2009. Pepper did not document or record Booth as an owner in HAAM Investments in order to conceal Booth’s investment in the transaction.

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From in or about 2010 through 2016, Booth purchased and maintained an ownership interest in MYP Properties by providing approximately $200,000 in cash and relief from gambling debt to Pepper. MYP Properties was used and created to own and operate apartment complexes. Both Pepper and Booth knew portions of the proceeds invested were proceeds of unlawful criminal activity. Again, Pepper did not document Booth as an owner of MYP Properties in order to conceal his involvement in the transaction.

According to the plea agreement, the United States will seek a sentence of imprisonment which should not exceed 12 months and 1 day of imprisonment. The defendant is free to argue for any sentence, including probation. Sentencing is scheduled for June 11 at 10am in Louisville.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Calhoun. The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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