Men jailed on drug, money-laundering charges

Published 6:38 pm Monday, October 23, 2017

RALEIGH — A Washington man was one of five sentenced to jail last week on charges related to a marijuana and money-laundering organization.

Samuel Seth Smithwick, 33, of Washington, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Smithwick was sentenced to 33 months in prison for each count. He will also be under three years of supervision after his release from prison.

Also sentenced to prison were: Alexander Wright Ferguson, 31, of Suffolk, Virginia, with 42 months for each count; Bryan Edward Bough, 37, of Fernley, Nevada, with 18 months per count; George Zorio, 58, of Roseville, California, with 33 months per count; and Michael Thomas Haas, 55, of Pinehurst, with 20 months for each count.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced the sentencing in a press release Friday.

Between 2010 and 2014, Smithwick and Ferguson shipped marijuana provided by Zorio and Bough via U.S. mail to customers in North Carolina and Virginia, according to the release. Other shipments were made via private jet to North Carolina, Virginia and Hawaii.

Authorities said Haas rented the private jets to transport four shipments with a total of 375 pounds of marijuana — rentals for which he was compensated with money from the drug sales. Smithwick and Ferguson reportedly used Haas’ house in Pinehurst, as well as Ferguson’s rented house in Nags Head, to store the marijuana before distributing it.

Over the course of the four-year scheme, more than 600 pounds of marijuana were distributed to customers.

“Drug proceeds in the amount of $1,834,098 were laundered through various bank accounts in amounts less than $10,000 to evade the federal transaction reporting requirement,” the press release stated.

Smithwick will be held in federal prison for the duration of his sentence. Upon his sentencing, Smithwick was also required to hand over $36,270 to authorities.