Man admits laundering money for drug dealers in St. Louis

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A man from Lake St. Louis, Missouri on Monday admitted laundering money for methamphetamine dealers operating in the St. Louis area.

Melvin Hayes, 66, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to misprison of a felony. Misprison of a felony is a crime committed when a person knows that someone has been involved in a felony but fails to report it to law enforcement authorities.

Hayes admitted working on behalf of Demond Bernard McDaniels Jr., Dawaune Lamont Rhodes Jr., and others who were distributing methamphetamine. He also admitted being caught on Oct. 8, 2020, in Kansas with 45 bundles of meth weighing about 100 pounds. Hayes had picked the meth up in Colorado and was bringing it to McDaniels. He told investigators that he would be paid for the trip but didn’t tell them he shared the profits from drug sales.

Hayes made three to four additional trips bringing cash from drug sales to Los Angeles and picking up meth, his plea says.

A subsequent investigation recovered a total of $115,755 in cash associated with Rhodes and McDaniels. 

Hayes also admitted amassing assets worth about $2.6 million by using drug profits to buy real estate, vehicles, and other assets and using his limousine business to hide the source of cash. 

Hayes is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26, 2024. The misprison charge is punishable by up to three years and a $250,000 fine. Hayes has already agreed to forfeit $250,000, representing the approximate value of properties he bought via money laundering activities.

Rhodes, of St. Louis, and McDaniels, of St. Charles, were each sentenced to 10 years in prison this year.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul D’Agrosa is prosecuting the case.

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