A Grandview man has been charged with money laundering and forgery in connection with car purchases that investigators say were intended to conceal another defendant’s drug-dealing profits.
Prosecutors filed the charges Wednesday against Miguel H. Gonzalez in Yakima County Superior Court. Gonzalez made his first court appearance Monday, when Judge Richard Bartheld ordered him released on pretrial supervision.
Detectives with the regional Law Enforcement Against Drugs Task Force say Gonzalez, 38, worked with Rafael Cervantes to use drug money for the purchase of eight motor vehicles bought in the names of Cervantes’ relatives.
Cervantes was investigated by law enforcement in 2015 and was arrested in February. He is charged in federal court with conspiring to sell methamphetamine.
Detectives said they uncovered Gonzalez’s role as they delved into Cervantes’ finances.
Gonzalez used his job at Tom Denchel Ford in Prosser and Tom’s Country in Hermiston to forge credit applications, took steps to cover up the actual purchaser of the vehicles and undertook other actions circumventing safeguards put in place by his employer to prevent illegal transactions, according to court documents.
Investigators allege Gonzalez used commissions he earned from the sales to make mortgage payments on his home and a Grandview car dealership, identified in the affidavit as Wine Country Auto Sales. The proceeds also went toward payments on two cars and a boat.