Former Louisiana dealer on trial for alleged money laundering

Publish Date: 
Jul 24, 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. – The former owner of a Denham Springs powersports dealership is accused of teaching drug dealers how to launder money through his business.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rene I. Salomon told a jury in opening statements Monday that Kevin Paul Calmes, supervisor at Calmes Motorsports LLC, “had to teach the drug dealers how to spend their money without appearing like drug dealers.”

Calmes, 40, and the dealership are accused of money laundering and structuring cash transactions to avoid filing required reports on cash purchases of more than $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, according to the Advocate.

Calmes attorney, John S. McLindon, says Calmes is innocent and that the prosecution’s case is built on unreliable witnesses.

C. Frank Holthaus, attorney for Calmes Motorsports, said employees of Calmes Motorsports did not know any of the cash that paid for motorcycles came from drug dealers.

McLindon criticized prosecutors for focusing on the fact that Kevin Calmes and some of the dealership’s employees accepted cash amounts of $9,999 toward the purchase of motorcycles.

“It’s not a crime to do it that way,” he said.

Salomon told jurors accepting cash of $9,999 for a motorcycle purchase is a crime if it is part of a scheme to structure the deal in such a way as to avoid cash transaction reports to the federal government.

Visiting U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk, of New Orleans, presides at the trial, which is expected to last at least a week.

Posted by Holly Wagner