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Accomplice in money laundering gets 6 years

– Months after his guilty plea in a money laundering case, an Indianapolis businessman was sentenced in a federal courtroom in Texas to nearly six years in prison.

Jason Peebles was picked up alongside Whitley County businessman Duane DuCharme in Plano, Texas. Peebles was seen by investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration at a storage facility, handing off a plastic tote full of $500,000 in cash to DuCharme, who stopped 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.

Last 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 that 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.

Charged in February with money laundering, Peebles pleaded guilty. The guilty plea document itself is sealed, as was the federal judge’s reasons for the specific sentence handed down Sept. 11.

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.

Pieper was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and five years on supervise release, 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.

On Sept. 11, U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone sentenced Peebles to a total of 70 months in prison and ordered him to pay $100 special assessment.

As part of his sentence, Peebles will be on supervised release for one year. He is to serve his sentence in the federal prison in Terre Haute and will report to the U.S. Marshals in late October, according to court documents.