ATLANTA, March 18, 2008 — A Georgia state representative pleaded guilty today to a federal money laundering charge and will resign from his post.
State Rep. Ron Sailor, D-Decatur, pleaded guilty to a felony criminal information charging him with laundering and attempting to launder what he believed to be drug proceeds, after taking possession and agreeing to launder a total of approximately $375,000 of cash from the purported sale of cocaine.
Sailor serves as the Representative of District 93 (parts of DeKalb and Rockdale Counties) in the Georgia General Assembly. He has been cooperating with the Government in an ongoing public corruption investigation since shortly after being confronted by the FBI on Dec. 19, 2007. He is resigning from his position today.
“This case did not start as a public corruption matter, but rather as a drug money laundering investigation — part of our diligent efforts to identify, investigate, and prosecute significant drug traffickers and money launderers, whomever they may be,” U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias said. “Rep. Sailor’s actions in that regard were very disturbing, because he was a person entrusted by his community with enacting the law, who instead violated the law in a serious way, seeking to assist the drug traffickers who sell their poison in our communities.
“Shortly after he was confronted by the FBI, however, Mr. Sailor decided to do the right thing by admitting his misconduct and agreeing to cooperate regarding potential criminal activity by others,” Nahmias added. “As a result, we now have an active public corruption investigation. With respect to that investigation, all I will say at this time is the following: As Mr. Sailor and others have learned, people in public office who have violated the law and the public’s trust should know that their situation will be much better if they come knocking on the FBI’s door than if the FBI comes knocking on theirs.”
On Nov. 10, 2007, Sailor met at a metro Atlanta hotel with an undercover law enforcement employee using the name “Jay,” who was working with and at the direction of the FBI. The meeting was at the request of Sailor, who had previously been seeking a drug dealer who had the ability of provide him with $300,000 in drug proceeds to launder for a fee and believed that “Jay” was a drug dealer from the Florida area.
During the Nov. 10 meeting, Sailor indicated that he had the ability to launder money and had done so in the past for others, and offered various scenarios for laundering the drug money to make it appear that it came from a legitimate source. After Sailor and the undercover employee discussed the source of the money – that is, drug trafficking – the undercover employee asked Sailor if he was sure he wanted to go forward. Sailor agreed to go forward and negotiated a fee of 10 percent.
In a second meeting about an hour later, Sailor took possession of $25,000 in cash, which was represented to be proceeds from the sale of cocaine. On Nov. 30, 2007, Sailor met with the undercover employee and gave him a certified check in the amount of $22,000. The check concealed the true source of the funds by falsely stating that the undercover employee was being paid for contracting work at a church with which Sailor said he is associated. In fact, no such church existed and the undercover employee had never performed such work.
In a second series of meetings and telephone conversations, Sailor agreed to launder another $50,000 in drug proceeds for a fee of 10 percent. On Dec. 1, 2007, the undercover employee met with Sailor at a metro Atlanta hotel and delivered $50,000 in cash, which was again represented to be drug money.
On Dec. 4, 2007, Sailor contacted the undercover employee and indicated that he was prepared to return the laundered funds and requested an additional $300,000 to launder. On Dec. 6, 2007, Sailor flew to Florida, where he met with the undercover employee and gave him two checks, in the amounts of $15,000 and $30,000, drawn on the accounts of separate local Atlanta businesses and signed by a third party. Both checks falsely indicated that they were for a business loan.
Sailor and the undercover employee then arranged to engage in a third laundering transaction. On Dec. 19, 2007, Sailor and the undercover employee met in an Atlanta area hotel, where Sailor was given $300,000 in cash, which was again represented to be drug proceeds. Shortly after taking the money, Sailor was confronted and detained by FBI agents.
After waiving his Miranda rights, Sailor admitted to the agents that he had laundered the $25,000 and $50,000 cash that he believed to be drug proceeds and that he intended to launder the additional $300,000 cash that he had just received from the undercover employee, federal authorities said.
Sailor could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
“The trust of the people in its elected officials is the foundation that our system operates on and depends on,” said FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones. “This trust was broken. The willingness demonstrated by Rep. Sailor to become involved in this type of criminal activity is disturbing to say the least.”
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Bill Thomas and Elizabeth Hathaway are prosecuting the case.