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Whitley businessman’s crime partner guilty

Admits role in laundering drug money in Texas

– A man picked up alongside Whitley County businessman Duane DuCharme with a plastic tote full of money in Plano, Texas, has admitted to conspiring to launder drug proceeds.

In April, investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration saw Jason Peebles and DuCharme at a storage facility in Plano. Peebles handed off about $500,000 in cash to DuCharme, who was stopped a little later at an office supply store after buying a shipping box.

DuCharme told investigators he was going to buy stock with the money, according to court documents.

The cash was suspected to be on its way to Mexico, and Peebles told investigators that he had told DuCharme the money was from the sale of drugs. DuCharme was going to launder the money, according to court documents.

DuCharme founded DuCharme, McMillen & Associates in 1973 and sold the tax consulting firm in the mid-1990s, but he stayed on as chairman of the board until 2006. The company has an office in Fort Wayne.

Online property records indicate DuCharme owns a home in Whitley County as well as property and businesses in Florida.

In December, DuCharme, 71, was sentenced to 180 days on home detention and three years of probation. He pleaded guilty in July to the charge of misprision of a felony, admitting he knew a crime was being committed but did not tell authorities and that he took steps to conceal the crime.

In this case, DuCharme admitted hiding money and property at his home and the home of a relative when he knew the money and property were the proceeds of unlawful activities, according to court documents.

Last month, Peebles was charged in a federal court in Texas with conspiracy to commit money laundering. He filed a guilty plea with the court, but that document is sealed. He will be sentenced at a later date.

According to court documents, Peebles bought cars and houses using hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash gathered from the sale of marijuana. Peebles did so using money provided by someone identified only as “EP.”

But court documents filed in a case against Eric Pieper show addresses and vehicle identification numbers matching those bought by Peebles.

Pieper admitted to conspiring in a marijuana trafficking ring that moved more than 16,000 kilograms of marijuana into the Indianapolis area, as well as paying off various co-conspirators, according to court documents.

By pleading guilty, Pieper forfeited houses in Texas and Indianapolis deeded to Peebles, as well as jewelry, furs and guns.

The Indianapolis home, 9755 Westpointe Drive, is listed as Peebles’ address in documents in Pieper’s drug trafficking case. In 2010 tax records, the home is listed as the location of NewLife Generations, for which Peebles was chief operating officer and DuCharme and his wife were directors.

DuCharme is linked to other companies, too, such as Allograft Innovations, a company founded in 2006 that furnishes grafts for surgery. DuCharme’s LinkedIn page lists him as the chief executive officer of Allograft and another tissue bank, New Life Generation/Medigraft in Indianapolis.

A message left with Allograft was not returned Friday afternoon.

NewLife Generations appears to be no longer in existence. The phone number for the company no longer works. A number for Peebles could not be found.

Court records show that DuCharme is serving his probation within the northern district of Indiana. Pieper was sentenced in mid-January to more than 12 years in prison and five years of supervised release.