A U.S. District Court jury on Wednesday found John “Jay” Carter, a former member of the Evansville Redevelopment Commission, guilty of federal money laundering charges.
Carter was accused of laundering drug cash for a lucrative marijuana distribution operation in business deals that took place between May 2011 and November 2012.
The jury found him guilty of 11 charges, including seven charges of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of providing false statements to law enforcement and one count of illegally structuring a currency transaction.
Jurors deliberated a little more than five hours Tuesday afternoon.
Carter could receive up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 20.
“He benefitted immensely from this money laundering, perhaps more than the drug dealers. He got access to wild amounts of cash,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Brookman in his closing remarks to jurors.
The jury heard from those drug dealers and others involved with the marijuana distribution during the trial, which got underway last Wednesday after two days spent seating the jury.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Carter actively helped convicted marijuana dealers Adrian Davison and Aaron Hardiman launder their drug cash by moving it through his bank accounts before transferring it back to them or using it to invest in buying and operating Shaggy’s Towing and the former Jazzy Grooves night club in Downtown Evansville.
Defense attorney Mark Foster argued that it all came down to whether the jury believed the testimony of the four main witnesses at the heart of federal prosecutors’ case, including Davison and Hardiman.
Foster attacked their credibility and reminded the jury that all of them stood to receive reduced sentences for their testimony. Davison and Hardiman, in particular, stood to benefit from their testimony, being offered by prosecutors eight-year sentences rather than the 20 years to life in prison they potentially faced.
He also said that there was no evidence Carter knew they were involved with drugs when he accepted money from them.
Foster also attacked the testimony of Special Agent Janet Delancey, of the Internal Revenue Service, and Detective Cliff Simpson, of the Drug Enforcement Administration task force, who investigated the case for not recording an October 2013 interview with Carter about his involvement in the investigation.
Delancey testified that Carter told her that “there was just so much money involved” and that “he got mixed up with the wrong people.”
They also testified that during the interview Carter gave them details about some of the people involved in the operation that investigators didn’t even know yet and that weren’t public at that point