Kingsley Osemwengie fell into the fast-lane trappings of Las Vegas, scoring big as a kingpin of a coast-to-coast crime ring that sold pain pills in a dozen states. His was a jetsetting life of call girls and drug couriers, Bentleys and bling.
But Monday, the 27-year-old defendant shuffled out of a Portland courtroom in cuffs and leg chains, headed for a long stretch in prison. Behind him, his anguished mother, who had begged Senior U.S. District Judge Ancer L. Haggerty to show her son mercy, sobbed loudly.
Osemwengie and longtime Vegas buddy Olubenga Badamosi, a Nigerian-born oxycodone dealer who lived in Milwaukie, headed a network that sold tens of thousands of the pills during a three-year span that began in 2008.
A massive multi-state investigation based in Oregon dismantled the network in a case that federal agents dubbed Operation Trick or Treat. Investigators tracked sales of the prescription painkillers from Florida to Alaska.
Government investigators say they believe many of the oxy pills came from Vegas, where the drug gang paid people to go from doctor to doctor to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone and then hand over their supplies. The fraud is known as “smurfing.”
The oxycodone pills sold by Osemwengie and 17 co-conspirators went on the street for up to $80 apiece, according to prosecutors.
The pills have a high addiction rate, said John F. Deits, who heads federal drug prosecutions in Oregon. “Then they get too expensive to buy, so people (switch) to heroin, because it’s cheap and readily available. Then they run the risk of overdosing.”
Kenneth J. Hines, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigations in the Pacific Northwest, warned oxy dealers that federal agents and their local counterparts will catch and prosecute people who take legal pain meds and distribute them like “some kind of party favor.”
And, he said, the government will go after their money.
The court seized $600,000 in assets — including cash, jewelry and luxury cars — from defendants in the Trick or Treat case, Deits said.
Authorities arrested Osemwengie at his $5,100-a-month Vegas condo in March 2011.
When IRS agents pored through his financial records, they found that he and his girlfriend, a stripper named Reina Nakachi, had deposited $1.2 million in six bank accounts, including those for two shell corporations: High Profit Investments and First Class Service.
Osemwengie moved thousands of oxy pills and handled hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, while Nakachi was pulling down up to $140,000 a year as an exotic dancer and escort, IRS Special Agent Scott McGeachy told the judge at Monday’s hearing.
“The defendant controlled Miss Nakachi in every facet of her life,” McGeachy testified. “She was at his command every step of the way.”
Osemwengie, a first-generation American whose parents hailed from Nigeria, gave Nakachi $118,500 to pay cash for a 2007 Bentley convertible. He also used her to acquire three other Bentleys, a pair of 2007 Mercedes S550s, a Cadillac Escalade and a Range Rover, prosecutors say.
The high-rolling dealer lived in a high rise in Vegas and put Nakachi up in the Trump Tower in Sunny Isles, Fla. Nakachi, whose sentencing on a drug conspiracy conviction is set for June 10, also leased five other luxurious dwellings for Osemwengie, including a $10,000-a-month condo in Miami‘s Ten Museum Park, the government alleges.
“He’s a very bright man,” Osemwengie’s defense lawyer, Gary Bertoni, told the court.
Osemwengie was illegally making fake IDs before he met up with Badamosi. Their circle of friends grew, and the drug operation grew with it “by happenstance,” Bertoni said.
Soon, Osemwengie found himself entrenched in the Vegas high life. “Once you’re into it,” Bertoni said, “you need to maintain that lifestyle.” Osemwengie had lots of jewelry, but little cash, his lawyer said. In fact, he owed money to family members and had student loan debts to the University of Nevada Las Vegas. In all, he owed about $300,000, Bertoni said.
Osemwengie was the last of the key players in the oxycodone ring to be sentenced. He took his case to the eve of trial, but reversed course last December and pleaded guilty to three conspiracy charges that accused him of selling oxycodone pills, sending them through U.S. mail and laundering the proceeds.
His parents spoke up for him at the sentencing hearing.
Philomena Osemwengie, his mom, beseeched Haggerty to give her son another chance. “Please, your honor, I’m begging you,” she said. By then, her tall, handsome son was weeping. He dabbed his eyes with Kleenex.
When it came time for him to stand and say his piece, Osemwengie drew his 6-foot frame out of his chair and stood rigidly in his blue jail scrubs. “I gotta apologize for a lot of things,” he said. “First and foremost, I put my family through a lot of shame.”
They suffered, he said.
Haggerty sentenced Osemwengie to 17 years and six months in federal prison.
– Bryan Denson
See the original post:
Portland judge sends high rolling Las Vegas oxycodone dealer to long stretch … -…