(WJBK) - Three men have been indicted in federal court for using Holy Moly Donut Shop and a sham dispensary as a front for a multi-state pot ring, according to federal officials.
Federal prosecutors say back in 2016, three men devised a plan to launder money through the donut shop at 201 W. 8 Mile Road in Detroit. The men also used a sham marijuana dispensary called United Collective located next door to the donut shop along with A&S ATM, a business that fills ATMs with cash. Each business was used to promote the illegal trafficking of marijuana and hide marijuana proceeds.
Three defendants, donut shop owner Victor Attisha, Junior Asmar and James Shammas, have been indicted on one count of conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana, along with five counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and aiding and abetting. They were also charged with one count of manufacturing marijuana and aiding and abetting, one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and one count of conspiracy to structure currency transactions.
According to the indictment, the defendants devised a scheme to manufacture and distribute hundreds of pounds of marijuana under the guise of a marijuana dispensary that was pretending to comply with the law.
Prosecutors say the three men had various roles within the scheme, including manufacturing, possession and distribution of marijuana, and laundering of the proceeds from the pot. They bought hundreds of pounds of pot worth over $1 million from suppliers in California and other places, the indictment states.
The marijuana was also grown and cultivated in residential and commercial operations throughout Metro Detroit and sold in the area, the indictment states. Residential grow locations included Rose Street in Roseville, Shelby Township and Sterling Heights. Commercial growing sites included Research Drive in Farmington Hills and Oak Park, as well as the donut shop and sham dispensary in Detroit.
The men are accused of using A&S ATM to promote the illegal trafficking of marijuana, conceal marijuana proceeds, and/or avoid reporting requirments. The indictment states that Shammas would periodically fill ATMs with cash that included proceeds from illegally marijuana trafficking. Between April 2016 and September 2017, more than $2.3 million was deposited electronically into a business account for A&S ATM, along with more than $2.3 million withdrawals.
According to the indictment, the defendants were charged with conspiracy to structure currency. Any time a customer makes a transaction involving more than $10,000, a business must file a Currency Transaction Report with the IRS. That includes withdrawaks, deposits, payments, exchanges of currency and more. This helps law enforcement uncover illegal activities like money laundering. As part of the conspiracy, deposits were made into a checking account owned by defendant Shammas just under the $10,000 requirement to file a CTR, which is called structuring. For example, on Sept. 16, 2016, there was $9,500 deposited, according to the indictment. On Sept. 19, 2016, documents say $9,300 was deposited, $9,500 the next day, another $9,500 the following day, and so on and so forth.
Additionally, the federal prosecutors say the men used other people, like Shammas's relative or his associate, as owners of certain bank accounts and real estate properties to conceal their illegal activities. For example, Shammas's associate was listed as the utility subscriber at a commercial grow on Research Drive in Farmington Hills.