CAMDEN, NJ—A former Essex County Deputy Sheriff was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for laundering money he believed was the proceeds of drug trafficking, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Eric Hawkins, 44, of Union, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to an information charging him with money laundering. He entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In addition to serving as a deputy with the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Hawkins owned a non-profit business, Urban Community Unification Inc. Hawkins met with an undercover law enforcement officer who held himself out to be a broker who laundered cash for a drug dealer. Hawkins agreed to launder cash—proceeds of the drug dealer’s drug trafficking business—through Urban Community Unification, listing the cash as a “donation.” Hawkins accepted $25,000, $35,000, and $20,000 in cash on three separate occasions and laundered the money through his company’s bank account. He returned a portion of the cash, less a 5 percent fee he charged for laundering the money. Hawkins also accepted $75,000 in cash to launder.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Kugler sentenced Hawkins to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents from the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; and special agents from IRS-Criminal Investigation in Mays Landing, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff; and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office with the ongoing investigation leading to today’s sentence.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Stephen Stigall of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.