City man charged in federal drug indictment

EAST LIVERPOOL — A city man was among those included in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday following an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Service, Internal Revenue Service and Lake County (Ohio) Narcotics Agency.

Dustin Robinson, who city police said lives in the East End, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.

Appearing Wednesday in U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland before Magistrate George J. Limbert, Robinson pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released on $20,000 unsecured bond.

Others charged in the two-count indictment are William B. Murphy, 37, Hawaii; Michael Spellman, 59, Hawaii; Peter Reichert, 30, Lyndhurst; Young Hee Park, Broadview Park; and So Young Park, Hawaii, all of whom are also charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.

In addition, Murphy, Spellman and the Parks are charged with conspiracy to launder money.

The indictment handed down by the U.S. District Court alleges that Murphy grew marijuana in Hawaii and also procured marijuana from Hawaii, California and Oregon and had it shipped to people in Ohio.

Spellman allegedly packaged the marijuana inside five-pound foil coffee bags that contained loose coffee beans, mailing them to various addresses in Ohio, with Murphy paying Spellman $100 for each package he mailed.

The indictment claims that Reichert received packages of marijuana in Northeast Ohio for distribution and Robinson received packages in Pennsylvania which had been mailed from Hawaii and California, with Robinson also allegedly mailing bulk cash to Spellman from Ohio, while Murphy and Spellman had drug profits mailed to them at several post office boxes in Hawaii and California.

According to the indictment, Young Hee Park received cash payments in Ohio from various marijuana customers then mailed the cash to Murphy in Hawaii, reportedly mailing cash from 25 different post offices in Northeast Ohio to avoid suspicion.

The 16-page indictment lists specific dates on which packages of marijuana and cash were mailed, with one mailed from East Liverpool by Robinson containing $4,880 and several mailed by Murphy containing a total of $34,840.

The indictment also alleges that Spellman opened bank accounts in Mentor, Ohio, into which he and Murphy directed people to deposit cash from at least 15 different bank branches in an effort to avoid detection.

Officials said the defendants deposited at least $348,000 in cash into the accounts between 2014 and 2016, using the funds for living expenses and other purchases, including $40,959 in airline tickets for flights between Cleveland and Hawaii.

Also purchased, according to the indictment, were drones for $13,062; a greenhouse in Hawaii for $10,632; a Polaris side-by-side for $18,500; and a Honda ATV for $11,170, among other items.

As part of the indictment, the defendants are required to forfeit to the federal government all property purchased with proceeds from these alleged illegal activities, as well as any of their property used or intended to be used to commit the crimes, among those is a signed Tiffany & Company platinum and diamond engagement ring listed in the indictment.

Overall, about 1,113 packages of marijuana were shipped to Northeast Ohio between 2014 and 2016, with about 965 packages of cash mailed from Ohio to California, Hawaii and Oregon, officials reported.

“This group mailed thousands of pounds of marijuana to Greater Cleveland from the West Coast and then laundered nearly $350,000 in drug profits,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said, adding, “The leaders of this conspiracy paid for a lavish lifestyle with drug money but now it will cost them federal prison.”

Ryan L. Korner, special agent with the IRS Criminal Investigations, said, “From coast to coast, the IRS will take every step to ferret out those who attempt to launder the proceeds of illegal drug profits. Without these ill-gotten gains, the traffickers could not finance their organizations.”

Robinson is owner-operator of Sky High Hydroflight Rentals.