Businessman charged with fraud
HUNTINGTON -- A Barboursville pharmacy and its west African director/president are at the center of a federal investigation into potential drug trafficking and banking law violations.
Kofi Ohene Agyekum, 36, was arrested this month, implicated in attempts to conceal more than $800,000 in cash deposits from the federal government, according to filings in U.S. District Court.
Agyekum appeared Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl A. Eifert. He was arrested Aug. 14 in Barboursville and remains incarcerated on her order at the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky.
The Internal Revenue Service charged Agyekum with structuring financial transactions to evade reporting requirements. It concerns his involvement as director and president of KAYPAT Medical Inc., which did business as A+ Care Pharmacy at 3 Chateau Grove Lane, a shopping center along U.S. 60 near Mall Road in Barboursville.
The charge pertains to a series of deposits June 2 involving approximately $20,000 at four Barboursville banks; however, affidavits supporting the seizure of $763,950 allege similar behavior with a total of nine checking and savings accounts.
"My expectation is if, and this is important, if he is ever indicted in the future, that yes he would enter a plea of not guilty," said defense attorney David O. Schles of Charleston.
Affidavits charge Agyekum routinely sidestepped reporting requirements associated with deposits of more than $10,000. The affidavits state he carried out the plan by dividing deposits between different times, multiple banks or within various accounts at the same bank.
Eifert's detention order put current totals at more than 109 cash deposits in excess of $800,000. The order further states Agyekum routinely asked tellers for their largest safety deposit boxes, including one in which authorities found $330,000 stacked in small bills.
Allegations of potential drug activity were noted in seizure affidavits for the nine checking and savings accounts. It involves A+ Care Pharmacy's potential conspiracy to distribute and possess with an intent to distribute controlled substances, along with the dispensing and distributing of such drugs in a manner contrary to legitimate medical purposes and/or usual professional practice.
The seizure affidavits state Agyekum told a Fifth Third branch manager in April that his pharmacy does not accept credit cards or checks "because of the type of customers he generally has in the pharmacy."
"Agyekum explained that his customers would give him bad checks or dispute credit card charges, therefore he just accepts cash," the affidavits state.
Schles called the branch manager's comments double hearsay. He said any statement regarding potential drug charges was just that -- a statement in support of the seizure warrant, not evidence of any wrongdoing.
"I've been presented no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Agyekum or A+ Care Pharmacy has done anything other than dispense controlled substances based upon customers presenting valid prescriptions from licensed physicians," he said.
The West Virginia Board of Pharmacy database states Agyekum has been a licensed pharmacy intern since Sept. 15, 2010, a description also noted in court filings.
Agyekum, a native of Ghana, immigrated to the United States approximately nine years ago, according to Eifert's order. It further estimates he moved to West Virginia about three and a half years ago.
Schles said his client became a naturalized citizen and lived in Kanawha County, W.Va., before moving to the Barboursville area. He had previously resided stateside in New Jersey, Virginia and Missouri, where Schles said he received a pharmacy degree from the University of Missouri.
The defense attorney said Agyekum remained a pharmacy intern due to his client having not completed requirements to be a registered pharmacist.
Agyekum also once had a pharmacy intern license in Missouri, although a dispute concerning alleged misuse of an employee discount card led to his termination from a national pharmacy and subsequent settlement with three years probation, according to documents filed with the Missouri Board of Pharmacy.
The defendant's West Virginia license expired June 30, although the database still listed his license status as "active" Thursday afternoon. A Board of Pharmacy representative said license holders have a 60-day grace period, which in Agyekum's case would expire itself Aug. 30. The agency did not return messages for additional comment.
A+ Care Pharmacy formed with the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office in October 2012. It opened a short time later with Agyekum then telling The Herald-Dispatch his company offered free delivery throughout the region from Wayne, Hamlin, W.Va., and southeast Lawrence County, Ohio, to as far east as Charleston.
Agyekum's wife, Patricia, was listed as the company's pharmacist in charge with an active license set to expire June 30, 2015, according to the seizure affidavits and state database. The affidavits further describe her as A+ Care's only licensed pharmacist.
Eifert's detention order states the couple divorced sometime in the past two years with the defendant claiming his wife indicates their kids, ages 2 and 1, are not his biological children. The judge called their relationship "unstable" and used it to support his pretrial detention.
Eifert determined Agyekum's only known residence was with his ex-wife and their problems "likely increase the risk" of his nonappearance. Another factor in flight risk was his limited ties to West Virginia and familial ties with his homeland of Ghana, where investigators believe he wired significant amounts of money and arranged property purchases with his brother.
IRS Special Agent Timothy Skeens, who authored the complaint, seizure warrants and accompanying affidavits, testified paperwork found during a search suggests Agyekum may have bank accounts in Ghana, according to the detention order.
Eifert's findings also described Agyekum as untruthful regarding his lack of a U.S. passport and knowledge of his mother, with whom he had a joint bank account.
"(Agyekum) also stated that he had only one car and limited funds, when in fact he had access to several vehicles and numerous bank accounts and safety deposit boxes full of cash," her order states.
Agyekum's first of nine bank accounts was established July 6, 2012. It was a savings account at Fifth Third in Barboursville.
Eight other accounts followed between Feb. 24, 2014, and May 31, 2014. They consisted of checking and savings accounts at Barboursville branches of Fifth Third, First Sentry Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank and Huntington National Bank, in addition to a money market account at First Sentry.
The affidavits allege $347,300 was structured into the Fifth Third accounts, followed by $255,700 at Chase, $107,550 at Huntington National and $53,400 at First Sentry.
Skeens based the seizures upon federal, state and local government records, along with financial records subpoenaed by a grand jury, public records and several witness interviews.
An affidavit supporting the criminal complaint cites one such interview. It alleges Agyekum, with a deposit of $16,000, asked Fifth Third tellers in December 2013 as to how he could avoid a federal transaction report required for any deposit over $10,000.
The tellers told Agyekum such avoidance was impossible even if he made deposits on different days or at different branches. The affidavit states he responded by taking back $7,000 and depositing the remaining $9,000, an amount under the federal requirement.
The criminal complaint affidavit then outlines a series of June 2, 2014, transactions when Agyekum deposited $20,050 between five accounts at the four banks. Amounts ranged from $500 to $6,050.
Upon Agyekum's opening of the First Sentry accounts, he acknowledged the $10,000 requirement and told an employee his deposits would be mostly cash, further requesting the amounts be counted in front of him. The employee later described his initial deposit as "suspicious" because it was arranged in four stacks of money consisting only of $50, $20 and $10 bills.
Eifert, in ordering detention, speculated as to the possibility that Agyekum has additional funds stockpiled in bank accounts yet to be discovered, based upon evidence already recovered and the number of banks in the Huntington, Barboursville and Hurricane, W.Va., area. Such concern made his risk of flight "substantial."
Eifert has yet to rule concerning Schles' request for the unsealing of warrants used to search A+ Care and a vehicle involved in the case.
Follow reporter Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.
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