by Ivan Foley
The former owner of a downtown restaurant/bar in Platte City has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in a money laundering scheme involving more than $200,000.
Mendy Read-Forbes, age 40 of Platte City, was given the sentence last week in federal court. Read-Forbes owned and operated the Pirates Cove Grill and Bar on Main Street in Platte City, directly across from the Platte County Courthouse, in the years 2003-2005.
Read-Forbes, Platte City, and Laura Shoop, 49, also of Platte City, were originally charged in a superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Shoop, who formerly ran a doughnut shop in Platte City, awaits sentencing.
As part of a plea deal, Read-Forbes agrees to be responsible for restitution in an amount more than $370,000 and agrees not to contest any forfeiture proceeding concerning $40,000 currently in possession of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
The two women were charged with laundering cash from marijuana trafficking through a non-profit credit counseling agency in Kansas City, said the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas.
Ronald Partee, a longtime Kansas City attorney and a co-defendant in the case, was recently sentenced to five years in prison.
Read-Forbes, a law school graduate, operated a non-profit business that provided educational and other social services.
According to the office of the U.S. Attorney of Kansas, Read-Forbes was originally charged with 16 counts of money laundering and Shoop was charged with eight counts of money laundering.
Authorities said that Read-Forbes’ company, Newhard Credit Solutions, was registered as a nonprofit organization that provided credit counseling services to people who were in bankruptcy proceedings. Read-Forbes held herself out as the owner and operator of the agency.
Shoop was an acquaintance of Forbes who worked at various times for the agency.
Authorities say in March and April 2012, Read-Forbes was introduced to an undercover officer posing as a marijuana dealer. Read-Forbes offered to devise a scheme to launder the dealer’s drug proceeds. As part of the scheme, Read-Forbes offered to deposit money given to her by the drug dealer into the bank accounts of Read-Forbes and Newhard Credit Solutions or related companies and then to return the money to the dealer via checks, money orders or wire transfers. The bank accounts were in Kansas.
To make the transactions appear legitimate, authorities allege Read-Forbes gave the drug dealer a contract titled “Purchase and Sale of Business Agreement.” The contract, bearing the signature of the drug dealer and another person known to the grand jury, made it appear that the marijuana dealer was purchasing assets of FCP, Inc., a corporation controlled by Read-Forbes and another person.
To make it appear that the drug dealer was engaged in business as a certified credit counselor with Read-Forbes and Newhard Credit Solutions, Read-Forbes allegedly gave the drug dealer a certificate saying he had completed training as a bankruptcy specialist.
In addition, authorities say Read-Forbes created a company called Maximum Lawn Care, LLC, and opened bank accounts where cash from the drug dealer was deposited.
Read-Forbes allegedly agreed not to charge a fee for laundering the drug dealer’s money until she had laundered $170,000 so that the dealer could use the funds to purchase more marijuana. Read-Forbes also agreed to let the drug dealer store 40 pounds of marijuana at her house, authorities said.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Housing and Urban Development investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Oakley and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble are prosecuting.