KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On November 4, 2020, Brooke Hensley, was sentenced to 126 months in prison for her role in leading a methamphetamine and heroin drug trafficking organization that distributed kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin throughout the Eastern District of Tennessee and elsewhere. Hensley was also sentenced to 126 months in prison for her role in laundering nearly $1 million in dirty money generated by a phony loan fraud scheme, to be run concurrently with her drug trafficking sentence.
Hensley, 26, of Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced by the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville. The defendant was also ordered to forfeit real property and to pay a $200,000 money judgment.
The extensive investigation revealed that Hensley and others distributed kilo-levels of methamphetamine and heroin throughout east Tennessee. Hensley was the leader of the conspiracy and obtained the methamphetamine and heroin from a co-conspirator in Atlanta, Georgia. The conspiracy involved eight other co-defendants, all of whom have been sentenced in federal court.
Hensley also was sentenced for her role in a money laundering and bank fraud conspiracy in which two others have been charged. Hensley and others received monies from fraudulent loans by making false representations to financial institutions as to income and employment. The defendant and others altered documents to support the loan requests, including providing false income tax return information to support fictitious income. Hensley conspired to launder the proceeds of these fraudulently-obtained loans by opening bank accounts in the names of nominees and transferring the loan proceeds to other conspirators. Hensley laundered over $800,000 of fraudulent loan proceeds.
“Drug traffickers sometimes engage in multiple schemes to illegally make money and ‘wash’ it. Brooke Hensley is one of those such traffickers, and she did so in running this fraudulent loan scam while she was peddling deadly poison in the Knoxville area.,” said U. S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey. “Thanks to DEA and IRS-CI, she has many years ahead of her to think about the consequences of her conduct and the lives she ruined.”
“The fines and prison term handed down in this significant sentencing reflect the seriousness of the charges and the wide scope of criminal activity in which the defendant was engaged, including drug trafficking, money laundering and other financial schemes,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line. “IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who profit from illegal activity are brought to justice.”
This drug, money laundering and fraud prosecution, which has led to nine convictions so far, results from an investigation by IRS-CI, DEA, Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Oak Ridge Police Department, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Department of Safety, and Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority Police.
The investigation that led to this prosecution, as described above, falls under the auspices of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne-Marie Svolto represented the United States in the prosecution of this case.