Money laundering may bring jail time |

Money laundering may bring jail time

by Claire Fortier and Christina Proctor

In addition to pleading guilty to tax evasion, Scott Paul MacDonald faces jail time for three counts of money laundering.

MacDonald, one of three defendants in a scheme to skim $500,000 cash from the sale of a local hotel, also pleaded guilty to laundering $60,000 of purported drug money through his motel, Chateau Suites.

In his plea agreement, MacDonald could get six months in prison, the forfeiture of his interest in Chateau Suites, and $2,500 in fines. Under the maximum sentence, MacDonald could have faced 20 years and $250,000 in fines for each count of money laundering.

MacDonald indicated there was more involved in the investigation than what was revealed in court documents.

“The whole thing has bankrupted me and I lost the Chateau,” MacDonald said Thursday. “It was an unnecessary thing to happen and something I have a lot of reservations about. They (the FBI) didn’t get what they started out to get.”

According to court records, the FBI informant approached MacDonald in the fall of 1997 with a proposal to launder money through MacDonald’s motel.

In January 1998, MacDonald took $10,000 cash from the FBI informant and, over the next month, wrote a series of checks totally $9,000 to a phony corporation set up by the FBI. MacDonald pocketed $1,000 as his cut of the scheme.

In February, MacDonald accepted another $25,000 in cash from the FBI informant. Over the next three months, he paid all but 10 percent of that amount with various checks written on his Chateau Suites account, a Tahoe Motel Management Ventures account, a Matterhorn Motel account and a Rodeway Inn account.

MacDonald was manager of the Rodeway Inn at the time.

MacDonald offered to launder an additional $25,000 in December 1998, which he again paid off in a series of smaller checks after taking his 10 percent cut. Among the accounts from which he wrote checks was the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

Under his plea agreement, MacDonald will be forced to sell his hotel.

A fire last October is holding up the sale. There is no apparent connection between the fire and the FBI investigation. The fire was apparently the result of poor construction.

MacDonald also said he intends to leave Lake Tahoe.

“I am not disappointed with Tahoe because it is a great community,” he said. “All I can say right now is I’m a pretty miserable camper.”

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