Defendant pleads guilty in drug money scheme

Nigerian extradited from London after five-year legal battle

December 07, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Nigerian national described by federal prosecutors as the leader of an international money laundering scheme pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Baltimore to laundering more than $2 million in drug money to overseas banks.

Adeniyi Allison, 31, who at one time lived in Odenton, has been incarcerated since 1996 in England. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled sentencing for Feb. 20.

Allison, one of 12 defendants indicted in 1996 on fraud and money laundering charges, was brought to Maryland from London last summer after a five-year legal battle over his extradition.

As part of the plea agreement negotiated between Allison's lawyer and prosecutors, he pleaded guilty on the condition that he be sentenced to no more than 68 months and given credit for time served since his arrest in London on June 18, 1996. The agreement means he will be released by February.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. DiPietro, an office spokesman, said that Allison fought extradition in the English courts, which delayed his trial in the United States. British authorities agreed to extradite him on the condition that he be charged with a single count of conspiracy to launder money, DiPietro said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew G.W. Norman said in a statement of facts that Allison laundered proceeds from drug deals by arranging for funds to be sent to bank accounts in Washington, Chicago and Atlanta and then transferred the funds to accounts in England, Italy, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Czechoslovakia.

The evidence against Allison included affidavits and testimony from police, prosecutors and several of Allison's accomplices, who have all been convicted of money laundering or drug charges, according to the statement.

Allison fled to Nigeria in 1993, but "used a number of conspirators" in the United States to launder money until his arrest, according to an affidavit by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Harding.

Allison used a now-defunct business address in Washington as a mail drop and made deposits and withdrawals of less than $10,000 to evade laws requiring the reporting of transactions over that amount to federal authorities, according to an affidavit filed by Donald Semesky Jr., an Internal Revenue Service agent assigned to the case.

Allison is the last of 10 defendants in custody to be convicted in the scheme. Two other defendants are fugitives, prosecutors said.

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