A federal judge Thursday sentenced the manager of a Denham Springs motorcycle dealership to 30 months in prison and fined the business $500,000.
Kevin Paul Calmes, 40, manager of Calmes Motorsports LLC in Denham Springs, was convicted Aug. 1 by a jury in Baton Rouge federal court on a charge that he laundered money for drug dealers.
Calmes was fined $25,000 by visiting U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, of New Orleans, and ordered to pay restitution of $24,927 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Both Calmes and his family’s motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle dealership were convicted on three counts related to their handling of cash transactions greater than $10,000. The transactions were structured in ways that avoided the filing of cash reports that would have drawn the attention of the IRS and other federal agencies.
Neither Calmes nor his attorney, John S. McLindon, made a statement to the judge prior to sentencing.
McLindon told Africk that was because Calmes now will ask the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to reverse his conviction.
Heather Calmes, Kevin Calmes’ wife, said her husband is a devoted partner and loving father to their three daughters. She also read a letter from their eldest daughter, who asked either for reversal of the jury’s verdict or a sentence of probation for Kevin Calmes.
“The media has all but destroyed our business,” Heather Calmes said. “We as a family will stand united. I’m proud to be married to Kevin Calmes.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rene Salomon told Africk the sentences for Kevin Calmes and Calmes Motorsports should reflect the seriousness of the offenses for which they were convicted.
C. Frank Holthaus, attorney for the dealership, told Africk the company has nothing with which to pay a fine.
“Basically, Calmes Motorsports is dead,” Holthaus said, adding that its new name is Outdoor Powerhouse.
Africk asked Holthaus whether he was arguing that any company found guilty of a criminal offense could simply fold itself into a new company to avoid any criminal fine.
Holthaus said that wasn’t his argument, but repeated that neither Calmes Motorsports nor members of the Calmes family have sufficient assets to pay a large fine.
Salomon, the prosecutor, replied: “Imagine that British Petroleum reformed itself as English Petroleum. A substantial fine is needed here.”
Both Kevin Calmes and the company also were convicted on a charge of failing to file IRS Form 8300, which is for reporting cash transactions involving more than $10,000.
Both Calmes and the company were found not guilty on a single charge of conspiracy to launder money. Calmes also was acquitted on one of his two money-laundering counts. And the dealership was acquitted on two counts of money laundering.
Africk presided at the eight-day trial that ended after 17 hours of jury deliberation.
On Thursday, Africk said Calmes must report to federal prison by 2 p.m. Jan. 7.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved