A Pinehurst businessman awaiting sentencing on federal drug and money laundering charges has agreed to forfeit at least $1 million in illegal proceeds from a marijuana distribution ring.
That is according to newly filed documents in U.S. District Court in Raleigh in the case against Michael T. Haas. His sentencing hearing has been delayed a second time and is now scheduled for sometime later this month, according to an order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Terrance Boyle.
Haas entered guilty pleas in December to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of marijuana and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, according to federal court records. The plea agreement is sealed until it is accepted by the judge, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh.
Federal prosecutors said in a motion filed April 20 that Haas “agreed to assist the United States in the recovery and forfeiture of any assets … acquired through unlawful activities, including all such assets in which the defendant has any interest or control. … Based on the defendant’s own admissions, the amount of proceeds to be forfeited is at least $1 million.”
According to the motion, Haas has already agreed to voluntarily relinquish $177,195. Prosecutors are asking Boyle to enter a judgment against Haas for the remaining $822,804, “an amount not currently in possession of or its whereabouts known to the government.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and Haas’ attorney have not commented on any details of the case.
Haas was initially set to be sentenced March 15 but was delayed until April 21 for unspecified reasons. Haas’ attorney, Joseph Cheshire V, requested an additional 30-day delay because he had not received the final pre-sentence report.
Haas has remained free on an unsecured $1 million bond since he was arrested last August while playing golf on Pinehurst No. 2. Originally, the conditions of Haas’ release included a curfew of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. and that he be subjected to electronic monitoring. That restriction was lifted in January.
In January, Michael and Carrie Haas surrendered their home at 220 Midland Road through what is called a deed in lieu of foreclosure for slightly more than $2 million, according to the Moore County Register of Deeds office. The deed was granted to a limited liability corporation called Harbour Towne Land, based in Suffolk, Va., which is trying to sell the home.
The criminal complaint against Haas, unsealed after his arrest, is based on an affidavit from a special agent with the N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement division, who is part of a federal task force with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The affidavit laid out how a “co-conspirator” — identified as Alexander Ferguson — helped piece together Haas’ role, as well another man identified in the complaint as Samuel Seth Smithwick, and provided the details on how the scheme reportedly worked. According to that affidavit, filed in the criminal complaint against Haas, the investigation is based in part on conversations Ferguson secretly taped while wearing a recording device in June. He was playing golf with Haas in Hawaii.
Ferguson has been cooperating with investigators in “hopes of receiving leniency in prosecution,” according to the criminal complaint against Haas. The two criminal charges against Ferguson were filed Feb. 22.
According to the affidavit, a drug-smuggling plan was instigated in 2012 when Ferguson and Haas flew on a private jet to Germany to celebrate Oktoberfest. Ferguson asked Haas about using private jets to transport marijuana from the West Coast to North Carolina, according to the affidavit. Before then, he had been sending “bulk shipments” of marijuana through the Postal Service to North Carolina and Virginia.
The two men agreed that Haas would receive “half of the net proceeds from the marijuana distribution” and reimbursements for the jet rentals, the affidavit said.
Haas used his corporate credit card to pay for leasing private jets, for three shipments that October and early November, and another in January 2014. Those transactions totaled more than $105,000, according to the affidavit.
A fifth flight was planned in July, but no marijuana was shipped. It was used as the final piece in building the case against Haas.
Ferguson, who is from of Suffolk, Va., entered guilty pleas in federal court in Raleigh to the same two charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of marijuana and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments after waiving indictment earlier this month, according to federal court records. He remains free on bond, and his sentencing hearing is tentatively scheduled for July 11 in federal court in Raleigh.