Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Federal Indictment Alleges Former Southwest Kansas Banker Conspired in Money Laundering

TOPEKA, KAN. – The former president of a bank in Plains, Kan., has been indicted along with two customers of the bank on federal money laundering charges, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Two former bank employees also are charged in the case.

The Kansas case is part of a larger investigation that has resulted in more than 20 indictments with defendants in Indianapolis, Ind.; Seminole, Texas; Boston, Mass.; El Paso, Texas; Atlanta, Ga.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Tulsa, Okla.; Denver, Colo.; and Mexico. The investigation in Kansas resulted in the seizure of more than 5,000 pounds of marijuana and more than $2 million in cash.

An indictment unsealed today in U.S. District Court alleges a couple from Meade funneled drug proceeds through their account at Plains State Bank while the former banker failed to report on the suspicious activity, even as millions of dollars flowed through the couple’s account. The bank is located at 411 Grand Ave. in Plains, Kan.

In a 37-count indictment, the following defendants are charged:

George Enns, 69, and his wife, Agatha Enns, 67, both of Meade, Kan., co-owners of Southwest Windmill and Waterwell, Inc.: one count of money laundering conspiracy, 34 counts of money laundering and one count of attempted money laundering.

James Kirk Friend, 52, Plains, Kan., who was appointed President of Plains State Bank in 2005, and replaced as president in 2013 when he was made senior vice president: one count of money laundering conspiracy, one count of failing to file a Suspicious Activity Report and 29 counts of money laundering.

Matthew Thomas, 37, Plains, Kan., loan officer and officer of Plains State Bank until he left in 2014: one count of failing to file a Suspicious Activity Report.

Kathey F. Shellman, 57, Plains, Kan., a cashier and IT officer at Plains State Bank until she left in 2014: one count of failing to file a Suspicious Activity Report.

The indictment alleges that:

  • From 2011 to August 2014 deposits to the Enns’ account were more than $6.8 million, including more than $1.6 million in cash.
  • The Enns also had an account at a Bank of America branch in El Paso, Texas. From 2011 to August 2014, more than $900,000 was transferred from the Enns’ account at Bank of America to their account at Plains State Bank.
  • The activity in the Enns’ two accounts was not produced by Southwest Windmill and Waterwell, Inc. The monies flowing through these accounts was not reported to the Enns’ accountant or reported on their tax returns.
  • From Jan. 11, 2012, to Aug. 12, 2014, the Enns crossed the U.S. border to and from Mexico at least 25 times. On at least four occasions they were stopped by customs officials and found to be in possession of large amounts of cash. For instance, on July 26, 2013, they were stopped at the Columbus, N.M., port of entry carrying $317,500 in a black trash bag.
  • Defendant George Enns told law enforcement officers that the U.S. currency was to be used to buy seeds for his seed business in Mexico.
  • Defendant Friend knew the Enns were bringing bulk currency from Mexico to the United States.
  • Bank officials did not require the Enns to provide proof that any of the currency transported from the United States was declared at the border and did not look into the source of the currency. They did not fill a SAR report on any transactions conducted on the Enns’ account.
Upon conviction, the alleged crimes carry the following penalties:
  • Conspiracy to commit money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Failing to file a report: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $500,000 on each count.
The following agencies investigated: The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.