A Spokane Valley businessman pleaded guilty Wednesday to several counts of hiding financial transactions concerning the sale of stolen metals and agreed to forfeit about $1.4 million in cash, property and vehicles purchased with proceeds of the illegal transactions.
Craig A. Dickson entered a plea agreement before U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea at a hearing in Richland. Dickson, owner of Dickson Iron and Metal, 907 N. Dyer Road, pleaded guilty to seven counts of structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements and one count of conspiracy to commit the same offense.
Dickson faces up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for each offense at sentencing, which is set for March 24, according to court records.
As part of the plea, Dickson agreed to forfeit $1.4 million in cash, property in Montana and Spokane County and several cars, including a 1974 Alfa Romeo convertible, a Porsche 356 Coupe, a 2008 BMW 358, a 2007 Chevy Corvette, a 2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder convertible and a 2006 Lexus GS 430.
The case started in December 2008 when agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and local law enforcement began investigating a suspected money laundering scheme involving stolen metals, including copper from commercial grade wire, according to court records.
“Stealing copper wire and other components from cellular towers, telephone lines, electrical substations and even vacant homes, has become a lucrative activity for organized groups and drug addicts over the past few years,” the plea agreement states. After purchasing stolen metal and commercial-grade wire, Dickson Iron and Metal would then ship the metals to recycling companies in Western Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Those recyclers would send checks back to Dickson Iron and Metal.
These checks would then be deposited in $9,000 increments, thus avoiding the $10,000 amount that triggers a report to the IRS, according to court documents signed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aine Ahmed and Timothy Durkin.
Dickson and co-defendant Tyson Schott, who manages the company and is Dickson’s nephew, then used the money to purchase personal residences, vehicles and boats,according to the plea agreement. Schott also pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same charges.
Dickson’s attorney, Richard Mount, did not return a phone call seeking comment, and efforts to reach Dickson were unsuccessful.