MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Friends of three men indicted along with two car dealerships in a multi-million dollar money-laundering operation say there's no way the men could have done it.
The three are accused of selling nearly $3 million in cars to drug dealers in order to lauder their money.
Wayne David McAlpin, Jr., 49, of Memphis; Brian Bowman, 45, of Lakeland; James Austin, 60, of Memphis; Pyramid Used Car Sales, located at 936 South Third Street; and Budget Auto Sales, located at 826 Georgia Avenue, were all named in the five-count indictment. At the time of the six year investigation, McAlpin was president of Budget Auto Sales and Austin worked as a salesman there. Bowman was president of Pyramid Used Car Sales.
"I am a lifetime friend of his and I can tell you that he is a very honest, Christian man and he has not done anything knowingly wrong nor has he just looked the other way," said one friend, referring to Bowman.
According to Ed Stanton, III, U.S. Attorney for West Tennessee, all were charged with one count of conspiracy to launder money known to be proceeds of illegal drug activity. Undercover investigators posed as drug dealers and purchased cars from both lots between May 2005 and August 2011. They determined that the businesses would sell cars to known dealers using drug money, and titled the vehicles under other names and filed incorrect IRS documents in an effort to hide the transactions the authorities.
The total value of the transactions in question is at least $2,926,552.
According to the indictment, if the three men are convicted, the Federal Government plans on seizing the two dealerships.
The indictment also outlines $5,988,031.33 it plans to seize in 25 different bank accounts. There are also 12 vehicles, including a 2008 Bentley Azure, a 2011 Audi A8 and a 2012 Mercedes S550.
The government also outlines 10 pieces of jewelry it will seize, including a watch, white gold diamond bridal set, earrings, and $30,000 in cash.
Pyramid has been in the news before. In December 2007, five men broke into McAlphin's parent's home in Germantown, tied them up, and stole their safe. In 2008, The Shelby County Sheriff's Office busted up a plot to rob Pyramid by arresting four people as they drove to the business to rob it.
No one at either dealership would comment on Thursday night, and there was no word if the three were in federal custody.