Park City Residents Busted For Laundering Drug Money Through Salt Lake Music Venue
The U.S. Attorney’s office for Utah has filed an indictment against three Utahns—including two Park City residents—charging that they engaged in a conspiracy to transport hundreds of pounds of marijuana from California to Utah and other locales.
Federal authorities say the defendants used the proceeds to finance their business ventures, including a music venue in Salt Lake. The venue, called The Complex, was also used to launder the funds from the drug operation.
In a press release on Monday, the U.S. Attorney announced the charges were filed against 33-year-old Gabriel Seth Elstein, his wife, 32-year-old Angela Christina Elstein, of Park City; and 48-year-old Scott Dale Gordon of St. George. Also named was, Dubles Holdings, a company where the Elstein’s are managing members.
The defendants are named on 13 counts including intent to distribute a controlled substance, and conspiracy to commit, promote and conceal money laundering.
Authorities are also asking to seize, by forfeiture, properties that were obtained with the drug proceeds, including the Complex, located near the Gateway Center in Salt Lake, a house owned by the Elstein’s in Pinebrook, and another owned in Jeremy Ranch, and a diamond Elstein bought for $70,000.
The 28-page document says that in 2006, Elstein and Gordon agreed to partner in a marijuana operation, since Gordon had a strong background in business, and Elstein was experienced in selling marijuana in the Salt Lake area.
The defendants allegedly formulated a scheme to buy from wholesale marijuana suppliers in northern California, and recruit drivers to transport the drugs to Utah and other states including Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin. They also enlisted retail distributors.
The indictment details how they worked with a succession of suppliers and drivers to deliver the drugs. The document notes that for one cash delivery to a supplier, a million-dollar payment, was vacuum-sealed in the shape of the Empire State Building.
The authorities say that from the spring of 2007 to the end of 2013, the defendants bought and distributed at least 2,500 pounds of marijuana and laundered at least $5 million in drug proceeds through the music venue and Bondad Productions, a company that promoted electronic music and rave shows.
The indictment says that in 2009 and 2010, the defendants built the Complex for about $1.3 million. Of that cost $400,000 came from laundered marijuana proceeds and $900,000 was marijuana money paid directly to companies and people involved in the construction.
The indictment says that they foreman on the project made cash payments to contractors on an almost weekly basis, dispensing shrink-wrapped plastic bags of $50,000.
Allegedly, Gordon kept two sets of books for the music venue, and laundered funds by, among other things, exaggerating returns from ticket sales. Drug proceeds also were used to support the club when it was struggling.
The charges are called a “superseding indictment”. They replace charges that were filed against Elstein and Gordon in February, and against Angela Elstein in September.
At an arraignment last Friday in federal court, the defendants pled Not Guilty and a trial has been set for December 14th. They could face a sentence of 10 years to life if they are convicted of the “conspiracy to distribute” charge.
U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said in the press release, “When it comes to marijuana, it’s all about cash. Sophisticated organizations are driven by profits to exploit the insatiable desire for drugs in America.”
KPCW has attempted to contact the attorneys for the defendants but hasn’t received any comment at this time.