Federal prosecutors Thursday filed a civil forfeiture complaint asking for court approval to keep $933,075 seized from Downtown's Kashi Jewelers during an investigation into possible money laundering.
The Fifth Avenue store touts on its Facebook page the slogan, "Bling Bling! It's a Kashi thing!" The complaint cites an IRS Criminal Investigation Unit allegation that "the owners and/or employees of Kashi Jewelers conducted financial transactions involving the proceeds of drug trafficking."
The complaint alleged that the business intentionally hid the sources of income, and "engaged in numerous cash transactions in excess of $10,000 with known drug traffickers" while failing to file reports required for all five-figure sales.
Federal law requires that all transactions of $10,000 or greater be reported to the IRS and bars the structuring of transactions specifically to avoid reporting.
The complaint said that an agent posing as a drug trafficker made two five-figure jewelry buys from the shop in 2012, telling store staff "that the cash was the proceeds of cocaine distribution." The sales weren't reported, the complaint said.
IRS agents seized the cash, which was stored in a safe, in a February search, the complaint said.
Store owners have not been criminally charged.
Reached at the store, David Kashi called the matter "a sad situation, but I cannot tell you more than that." He declined to provide the name of any attorney representing the store or its staff.
The amount seized reflects a fairly large fraction of federal prosecutors' typical annual haul. During the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton's office brought in a total of $19 million in judgments, fines, settlements, restitution, special assessments and forfeitures.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord.