Gentilly Resident Sentenced for Money Laundering

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  Department of Justice

United States Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             CONTACT: ANNA CHRISTMAN   THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2017                                   PHONE: (504) 680-3171 WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/LAE                                         FAX: (504) 589-4978






NEW ORLEANS – Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that CORNELL PENDLETON, age 51, of the Gentilly neighborhood in New Orleans, was sentenced today for his role in laundering money on behalf of heroin dealers in the New Orleans area. 

             U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo sentenced PENDELTON to a term of incarceration of 121 months, followed by two years of supervised release.  Judge Milazzo also ordered PENDLETON to pay a fine of $100,000. 

             Following a weeklong trial, a jury found PENDLETON guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering; numerous substantive money laundering offenses involving the purchase of real property and cars using illegal drug money; structuring his cash deposits; and providing false statements on loan applications.  The jury also found that PENDLETON must forfeit over $700,000 in cash and assets that were involved in his criminal activities. 

             According to the evidence presented trial, the case against PENDLETON stemmed from a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation of a heroin-trafficking organization that operated in New Orleans East.  The original investigation, nicknamed “Wild Wild East,” began in 2013 and has since resulted in the conviction of twelve New Orleans-based heroin dealers. 

             Through that investigation, the government began developing evidence that PENDLETON was helping drug dealers to acquire high-end assets in an effort to conceal the proceeds of their drug operation.  These high-end assets included multiple cars, such as Mercedes, Porsche, Corvette, Bentley, and BMW; residential and investment real estate; jewelry, including Rolex watches; and other expensive items.  PENDLETON’s scheme involved purchasing assets in his own name, and then allowing the drug dealers to use the assets while making sizable, off-the-books payments to PENDLETON.  Once an asset was fully paid off, PENDLETON would often transfer title of the asset back to the drug dealer.  PENDLETON was paid entirely in cash for his assistance in acquiring these assets.  The evidence showed that, over a two and a half year period between 2012 and 2014, PENDLETON deposited over $1.5 million in cash into four bank accounts, while knowing that the cash included illegal drug proceeds. 

             Acting U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Kenner Police Department, and Border Patrol in investigating this matter.  Assistant United States Attorneys Brandon S. Long and Theodore Carter were in charge of the prosecution.


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