March 24, 2018
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Calif. man gets 5 years for trying to hide cash from IRS by buying money orders

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — A California man who spent nearly a decade behind bars for trafficking marijuana was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to five years behind bars for conspiring to hide more that $65,000 in drug proceeds from the Internal Revenue Service by purchasing money orders.

John Hunt, 53, of Victorville, Calif., also was sentenced to three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hunt pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to structure transactions with a domestic financial institution for the purpose of evading reporting requirements, according to information posted on the court’s electronic case filing system.

Under federal law, financial institutions that receive more than $10,000 in cash from a customer are required to report the transaction to the IRS, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release issued Thursday. Financial institutions also must record certain information and verify the identity of anyone who uses cash to purchase $3,000 or more worth of money order on the same day.

Structuring occurs when customers break up their cash transactions into multiple increments of less than $10,000 or $3,000, to avoid these cash reporting requirements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Hunt, in conspiracy with Marsha Potts, 56, of Porter, purchased $3,000 or more in U.S. postal money orders from nine different post offices in Maine between November 2009 and May 2010, according to court documents.

The cash used to buy the money orders was generated from Hunt’s sale of marijuana, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Information about whether Hunt has been convicted recently of a drug charge was not available late Thursday.

Potts was sentenced Aug. 21 in federal court in Portland to four months in jail and three years of supervised release for her role in the scheme, according to an information file on the court’s electronic case filing system.

Both faced up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

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