Arizona Man Pleads Guilty to Drug and Money Laundering Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 11, 2014|
BUFFALO—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Shane Grafman, 29, of Prescott, Arizona, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, as well as a separate charge of money laundering conspiracy, before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a fine of $11,342,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who is handling the case, stated that between April 2009 and February 1, 2012, the defendant conspired with others to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The defendants obtained the narcotics in the state of Arizona and then utilized several methods to send the marijuana and cocaine to the Buffalo area, including cars, trucks, shipping crates, and United States Postal Service parcels. Grafman also utilized private jets to travel from Arizona to Buffalo to pick up his drug proceeds.
During the investigation, law enforcement officers seized approximately $1,000,000 in United States currency, including $671,385 from a hidden compartment within a Honda Ridgeline driven by Grafman.
As part of his plea, the defendant admitted that he distributed more than 100 kilograms (200 pounds) of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms (more than 2,000 pounds) of marijuana during the course of his crimes. At an average usage rate for cocaine of 100 milligrams per use, the amount of cocaine distributed by the defendant would have resulted in at least 1,000,000 individual uses, or “hits.”
Grafman was arrested in February 2012. Other defendants charged in the case include Elijah Chaffino, of Tempe, Arizona, who has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing. Charges are still pending against defendants Jordan Ali, formerly of Alden, New York; Jason Nati, of Buffalo, New York; and Jacquelyn Witman, formerly of Buffalo, New York, now residing in the Atlanta, Georgia area. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The plea is the culmination of investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of James J. Hunt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Division; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero; Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Weirauch; United States Postal Service Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Kevin Niland; Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian P. Boetig; Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda; Erie County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Tim Howard; Niagara Frontier Transit Authority, under the direction of Chief George Gast; Tempe, Arizona Police Department; Apache County, Arizona Sheriff’s Department; and Oklahoma State Police.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 25, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Skretny.