Court throws out conviction of drug kingpin’s ex-girlfriend

Asya Richardson, the former girlfriend of convicted drug kingpin Alton "Ace Capone" Coles, fell to the floor after a judget sentenced her Friday to 24 months in prison.
Asya Richardson, the former girlfriend of convicted drug kingpin Alton "Ace Capone" Coles, fell to the floor after a judget sentenced her Friday to 24 months in prison.
Posted: September 23, 2011

A federal appeals court here threw out two money laundering convictions against the former live-in girlfriend of drug kingpin Alton "Ace Capone" Coles.

The three-judge panel, which said the evidence was "insufficient" to support a guilty verdict against Asya Richardson, vacated the convictions and sent the case back to district court for acquittal.

Richardson, 31, is presently serving a 24-month sentence at a federal women's prison in West Virginia. Defense attorney Karen Ibach filed court papers today for Richardson's immediate release on bail. Federal prosecutors did not oppose the motion.

U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ordered her immediate release.

Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend Coles is serving a life sentence for running a $25-million cocaine-distribution network. Coles and Richardson, as well as four co-defendants, were convicted in 2008.

Originally, Richardson was accused of helping Coles' launder $114,000 in drug proceeds that he used as a down payment on a $500,000 house in Mullica Hill, N.J. in July 2005.

Surrick concluded in 2010 that the financial transactions used to buy the home involved proceeds from drug trafficking.

But defense attorney Ellen Brotman argued on appeal that prosecutors failed to prove that a series of financial transactions leading up to the purchase of the home involved drug proceeds.

Brotman also argued that even if Richardson knew drug money was used to purchase the Mullica Hill home, there was insufficient evidence that she participated in financial transactions knowing they were designed to conceal the nature, location, source, ownership or control of the money.

The appeals panel agreed in its 13-page opinion, noting that it was Coles, not Richardson, "who funneled cash through the Take Down Records bank account."

The panel said the government failed to present evidence that Richardson participated in or knew about the transactions involving the account.

Prosecutors had argued at trial that Take Down Records was little more than a front to cover up Coles' drug activities.

The feds proved that Richardson had only made one $9,200 cash deposit at a PNC branch in Stratford, N.J.

"A single cash deposit of less than $10,000 is not sufficient to establish knowledge of a design to conceal as to the transaction as a whole," the opinion said.

Richardson submitted a mortgage application used to purchase the Mullica Hill home that vastly overstated her income.

But the appeals panel said that was done not to hide Coles' involvement in the purchase but "to get around Coles' bad credit" and that "no jury could have reasonably reached a different conclusion."

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|