Owner gets probation for sale of bar to pusher
A former Waikiki bar owner was sentenced to three years' probation and 12 months of home detention yesterday for conspiring to launder drug money by selling his lounge to a California drug peddler.
U.S. District Judge David Ezra also ordered Sanford Jacobson, 70, to 12 months of home detention and electronic monitoring.
Sanford formerly owned Spinners bar at 2463 Kuhio Ave. and agreed to sell it to David Espinal, described in court papers as a large-scale crystal methamphetamine dealer from California, in summer 2001 for $350,000.
According to a plea agreement, Jacobson tried to hide Espinal's interest in the sale by executing documents showing he was dealing with D.D.R. Corp. and a David Hernandez, rather than Espinal.
On three separate occasions in August and September 2001, Jacobson received $100,000 and false receipts showing the money coming from Hernandez. He knew that the money he received from Espinal was proceeds from his drug-trafficking activity.
Last August, Jacobson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Loo asked the court to impose a sentence of 37 months in federal prison, citing Jacobson's cooperation. Jacobson was facing advisory sentencing guidelines of 70 to 87 months.
In ordering probation instead, Ezra noted Jacobson's age, health, lack of criminal history and that he was unlikely to commit other crimes. He noted that Jacobson had behaved himself while out on bail, adding, "You're not a big fish."
IRS investigators had a word of caution for those willing to engage in similar activity.
"Money-laundering activities, such as the ones used in this investigation, are an attempt by narcotics traffickers to assist them in the continuation of their illegal activities," said Nick Henley, Hawaii's assistant special agent in charge for IRS Criminal Investigation. "We aggressively pursue these type of money-laundering schemes no matter what the illegal source may be, and have those involved prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."