Luxury car dealer admits role in laundering drug money

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Drugs-and-Money

SAN DIEGO — The proprietor of a Miramar-area luxury car dealership admitted in federal court Thursday that he conspired with a drug trafficker to evade laws requiring disclosure of cash transactions exceeding $10,000.

John Frank Mussari Jr., owner of Mussari Motors Inc., pleaded guilty to failing to report payments totaling $719,000 from a narcotics dealer who purchased several high-end vehicles, including a Ferrari and Porsche, over a four-month period.

Drug traffickers often use such methods to launder their illicit proceeds.

Under federal law, anyone who receives more than $10,000 in cash in one transaction or in two or more related transactions while engaged in the operations of an auto dealership must report the income to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network within 15 days.

Mussari, 48, admitted that he received $132,000 for a Ferrari, $115,000 for a Lamborghini, $147,000 for a Porsche and $205,000 for another Lamborghini, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego. He also admitted that he received $80,000, $60,000 and $31,000 in cash from the drug trafficker.

According to court documents, Mussari was detained while attempting to drive off in a Lamborghini as federal and state agents searched the drug trafficker’s Fallbrook home. Agents found about $205,000 in cash in Mussari’s car. The money was forfeited to the federal government.

Mussari will face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Dec. 5.

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