California man sentenced to 33 months in prison for laundering drug money
A California man was sentenced Thursday to 33 months in federal prison for laundering proceeds of a marijuana trafficking operation between the west coast and the Quad-Cities.
Gianco “Geo” Sheridan, 27, of Los Angeles, was convicted in January of 32 counts of money laundering to conceal drug proceeds and one count of conspiracy to launder those proceeds.
At sentencing on Thursday, Judge Sara Darrow said that, while Mr. Sheridan may not have been directly involved in trafficking drugs, his willingness to launder proceeds played an integral part in the illegal operation’s success.
A college graduate with a privileged upbringing and no prior criminal history, Mr. Sheridan had thrown away many opportunities in favor of “greed,” the judge said.
Mr. Sheridan, whose family lives in Chicago, told Judge Darrow he moved to Los Angeles after college to pursue a career in the film industry. “Naive and gullible,” however, he said he became involved in the marijuana scheme with his cousin, Quisontro “BJ” Hart, 35, of Los Angeles.
Prosecutors said high-grade marijuana was shipped between Mr. Hart in California and Trust Auto Sales, 801 11th St., Rock Island, a “sham company” run by Joel McCalebb, 52.
Mr. Sheridan allowed proceeds from the drug sales to flow between California and Illinois through four bank accounts set up in his name, prosecutors said. His involvement made the operation run more efficiently and helped his two co-defendants avoid government detection, prosecutor Linda Mott said.
The total amount of money laundered through Mr. Sheridan’s accounts was about $230,000, according to prosecutors.
Mr. Sheridan’s involvement was a “crime of opportunity” and, despite many opportunities presented to him, he had chosen the “path of least resistance,” Ms. Mott said. She questioned whether he would be tempted to take the same path if presented with criminal opportunities in the future.
Mr. Sheridan’s attorney, Nate Nieman, said his client made “a series of poor decisions” born out of “inexperience” and without thought to the consequences.
Saying he felt “like a fool,” Mr. Sheridan told Judge Darrow he understood the importance of associating with “positive” people and vowed to “stay on the right side of the law” in the future.
But, the judge said Mr. Sheridan seemed to shift blame onto others rather than take responsibility himself. As a “full grown man,” Mr. Sheridan should have known “right from wrong” and that his crime was not a “victimless one,” the judge said, adding it was impossible to know where or in whose hands the trafficked marijuana ended up.
Mr. Hart and Mr. McCalebb each pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. In January, Judge Darrow sentenced Mr. McCalebb to two years in prison; in March, she sentenced Mr. Hart to 33 months in prison.