Federal prosecutors have charged a doctor in Texas for his alleged role in a nationwide marijuana-selling operation that has been linked to a 2017 Columbia homicide.
Irvin Sahni, of Houston, is accused of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Investigators believe he laundered some of the money from the drug operation that involved Augustus Roberts before that money would eventually be sent back to the suspected leaders of the operation, Craig Smith and Kurt Petersen.
Roberts was shot and killed outside of a home on Lasso Circle in the Old Hawthorne neighborhood on Dec. 11, 2017. Police found a UHaul stolen from the property and several pounds of “high-grade marijuana” and more than 3,000 THC vaping devices shortly after the killing.
According to the complaint, Sahni would take cash made from the drug sales and write a check to another man in Texas, Michael Wear. Wear’s business, Cold Fusion, would then allegedly wire the money to Smith and Petersen.
The federal complaint from IRS agent Jeffrey Abbott said Smith and Petersen “used a significant financial network” to launder money made from the sale of marijuana and THC vape pens. The pair would work with others to set up businesses in California and Oregon to receive the money. Couriers would also drive across the country to collect money made. One of these couriers, Byron Telford, admitted to federal authorities that he drove from the east coast to Kansas City to collect money on his way to Oregon.
Abbott linked Sahni to at least $1.9 million of these payments to Wear’s businesses. An informant told federal investigators that the two, who had known each other since the seventh grade, worked together in the regular course of business from 2016 to 2018. Sahni met Petersen in early 2016 at a Houston real estate auction, according to the complaint, and even gave Petersen money to buy property in California to grow marijuana. Petersen would also give Wear and Sahni free vape pens for their help.
Federal investigators have charged more than a dozen people across the U.S. related to the marijuana sales. Petersen pleaded guilty to arranging for the transport of thousands of pounds of product across the country, as well as laundering more than $3.5 million of the sales.