A Kentucky woman who helped launder her son’s drug money will spend 15 months in prison. She used Coinbase.
A Kentucky woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison for helping her son launder drug money. Her son, John Frank Naber III, sold counterfeit Adderall pills on the darkweb (onion) as well as to local customers.
Cara Leann Naber, 57, assisted her son in laundering his drug trafficking proceeds and structuring bank transactions to evade federal cash transaction reporting requirements. Her son is currently serving a 132-month prison term for selling methamphetamine, laundering money, and owning a firearm as a convicted felon.
The investigation details into John Naber are either under seal or non-existent. Many court documents that usually contain information about the investigation and the person’s marketplace username remain under seal. However, the criminal complaint makes me think this case started with an informant.
Postal inspector Joshua Smith wrote that the investigation into John Naber included the monitoring of suspicious shipments associated with Naber that “appeared to contain substances and products often used in the manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of narcotics.” Investigators also gathered information about Naber’s financial transactions, physical movements, daily habits, and “associations.”
Witness statements provided investigators with the following pieces of information about Naber:
- Naber is engaged in drug trafficking, locally through hand-to-hand drug sales (of substances including cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana-derived products) and on the Dark Web, where he operates as a vendor selling counterfeit Adderall pills. The Naber are mailed through the United States Postal Service (USPS).
- Naber earns proceeds both in cash and in the form of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which he stores in one or more secure wallets accessible using secret passphrases.
- Naber stores drugs and drug paraphernalia at his parents' home in Goshen, KY, and operates a pill pressing operation in a trailer on the property, where he makes pills for sale on the Dark Web.
- Naber has control of a rental property near Taylor Blvd., currently under construction and owned by a family member. He has packages of contraband associated with drug trafficking delivered and had plans to build in “stash” locations for contraband within the property.
The investigation involved Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Kentucky State Police.
On February 22, 2019, investigators executed the search warrant for two properties associated with John Naber and Cara Naber. Officers located evidence of narcotics trafficking, including but not limited to:
- Over 1000 grams of suspected methamphetamine stored in a shed on the property
- Numerous USPS parcels
- Numerous firearms, including in the shed where the 1000 grams of methamphetamine was found and in Naber’s room with other drugs and paraphernalia
- A trailer containing an automated pill press and large containers of orange powder believed to be raw ingredients to be pressed into pills.
- A large quantity of clear plastic bags containing suspected counterfeit Adderall
- Marijuana-derived products
- $325,000 in cash
- Counterfeit U.S. currency
At the second location, officers found:
- A Pringles can with a false bottom container with suspected MDMA packaged in multiple bindles
- A “key” to a cryptocurrency wallet containing “over $200,000 in Bitcoin”
- Digital scales
- A chemical frequently utilized as a cutting agent in the manufacturing of narcotics
Several months after postal inspector Joshua Smith named John Naber in a criminal complaint, prosecutors filed an indictment that named John and Cara Naber as co-conspirators in a money laundering conspiracy.
Cara Naber deposited cash from her son in safety deposit boxes under her name as well as the name of an “unindicted person known to the grand jury” (hereinafter “Person One”). Cara Naber also deposited John Naber’s cash into bank accounts under her name and accounts owned by Person One. Cara Naber then purchased Bitcoin through Coinbase in an attempt to “further obscure the sources of the funds.”
(To be clear, they started with cash here and then used Coinbase to turn it into Bitcoin. Amazing!)
Cara Naber pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder drug trafficking proceeds and one count of structuring bank transactions to evade federal cash transaction reporting requirements in October 2021. On February 2, 2022, United States District Judge Benjamin J. Beaton sentenced her to 15 months in prison. The prison time will be followed by a home sentence of 15 months and three years of supervised release. Cara Naber was also ordered to forfeit $420,000 and pay a $100,000 fine.
If John Naber earned and forfeited $526,703 ($326,703 in cash + $200,000 in Bitcoin), how are the feds getting ~ $1 million in seized assets/fines from John and Cara?