A Mullingar man has been jailed for money laundering offences after he made payments via Western Union for drugs to be imported from the USA.
At Mullingar Circuit Court, Judge Tony Hunt imposed a four-year prison sentence on Sean McEntee (27 ) of Grange Crescent, Mullingar and suspended the final two years, after he pleaded guilty to 10 sample charges of paying for cannabis which was to go on sale in the Mullingar area.
It is understood these are the first convictions secured under the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act 2010. The money transferred from Mullingar and collected in Grass Valley, California was considered to be the proceeds of crime.
Judge Hunt said McEntee was quite prepared to co-opt into the scheme members of his family who would otherwise not have come before the court.
His sisters Sarah, Lisa, and Karen, all originally from Grange Crescent, who have no previous convictions, and two non-family members, were given non-custodial sentences for their minor involvement in transferring money on his behalf, but the court said they should have asked more questions.
The non-custodial sentences ranged from the Probation Act, for Ben Vella, Fairgreen, Mullingar who unwittingly collected money while staying for free with McEntee family friends in the USA, to community service, to a two-year suspended sentence for brother Keith McEntee, with a current address at Fairgreen, Mullingar who collected several instalments in the USA.
Transactions totalling €57,000 were made, with Sean McEntee making a profit of €10,000, leading Judge Hunt to describe him as a prime mover in an enterprise that was solely for making money.
Gardaí became suspicious when they heard of American cannabis unique to the Mullingar area.
Garda Bobby Feery said gardaí intercepted delivery of a package of cannabis from the USA to the home of Anthony Moloney of Abbeylands, Mullingar, who has pleaded guilty to money laundering and drug dealing offences.
His case has been adjourned to September for sentencing.
Judge Hunt described McEntee as being at high risk of reoffending, but said his plea of guilty and his cooperation with gardaí prevented what could potentially have been a costly and complicated trial.
However, he has a previous conviction for drug dealing and this offence spanned national borders and required a degree of thought and planning.
It wasn’t the crime of a desperate drug addict, he said, but had been planned over a long period of time.
He took the offences as a whole in imposing the four-year prison sentence with the final two years suspended, and ordered a further 18 months probation supervision subsequent to that.
The sentence was to reflect the level of operation McEntee was involved in and to act as a deterrent, he said.