Monday, March 19, 2012


A  Georgia resident who had previously been found by CBP to possess large amounts of undeclared cash on arrival from the United Kingdom was sentenced to a term of one year nine months in Federal Prison, after his conviction in US District Court* after a jury trial, on Bulk Cash Smuggling charges. Stephen Willoughby had secreted $106,802, both in his luggage and on his person, on arrival at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The defendant failed to declare that he was carrying more than $10,000 in cash, after being repeatedly questioned by Customs & Border Protection officers. He claimed that the cash was for the purchase of automobiles for export to Nigeria, and/or to support his unsuccessful restaurant business.

 There was testimony at trial that there was a "lookout" for the defendant, who had brought in $80,000 from the UK, previously, without declaring it. He was allowed retain that sum reportedly due to the failure of law enforcement to follow proper arrival procedures. His prior history included two additional arrivals with large amounts of currency declared on arrival, in 2007 and 2009. There's a pattern here.

 Does he fit the traditional bulk cash smuggler profile ? it is hard to say. He may be a successful criminal who is no longer involved in illicit activity, and has hidden his proceeds of crime offshore, repatriating it as needed. That's my best guess, based upon my experience.

His attorney argued at trial that there was no testimony that the money was connected to any criminal activity, and that he was entitled to a Downward Departure in his sentencing computation, but the Court failed to grant his motion.

The penalty imposed also included three years of Supervised Release, and one hundred hours of Community Service. Did the Court add this last item due to its finding that the defendant committed Perjury during his initial contact with law enforcement ? It did hold that he obstructed justice.

The maximum penalty for Bulk Cash Smuggling is five years; should he have received a stiffer sentence ? You be the judge, but I believe that he is getting off easy.

*United States vs. Willoughby, Case No.: 11-cr-00280-CAP-JFK (ND GA).

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