The attorney for Harris Pepper will request probation when Pepper is sentenced next week in federal court.
Pepper has pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to launder money, entering into a plea agreement in which federal prosecutors are recommending a prison sentence of one year and one day.
A Bowling Green real estate and finance attorney, Pepper’s law license has been suspended in the wake of his guilty plea, which was entered in February in U.S. District Court in Louisville.
Pepper is set to appear July 2 for sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Justin Walker.
In a sentencing memorandum filed Monday, Pepper’s attorney, Marc Murphy, requested that Pepper be placed on probation, arguing that imprisonment places Pepper’s two children, who have autism, at risk of being unable to receive the care they require.
“Simply put, Harris Pepper cannot be removed from his home, even for a short time,” Murphy said in the memorandum.
The memorandum details how Pepper, his parents and his wife take part in round-the-clock care for his two children, and how Pepper’s life has been dedicated toward financially supporting the needs of his children.
Along with the 24-page filing, Murphy submitted a 40-minute video to the court that features images of the children and interviews with family and others familiar with the situation in the Pepper household, according to court records.
More than 30 letters from members of the community have been submitted that testify to Pepper’s character.
“Harris hasn’t been working, saving and investing for his retirement,” Murphy said in the filing. “He is working for the survival of his children, who will never be independent, for the rest of their lives.”
In the sentencing memorandum, Murphy mentions several instances in which Pepper “offered significant assistance, financial and otherwise, to others whose plights were brought to his attention” without expecting the favors to be returned and also cites Pepper’s service on the advisory boards of Western Kentucky University’s Kelly Autism Program and its Clinical Educational Complex as examples of his service in the community.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky accused Pepper of taking part in a conspiracy with Doug Booth from 2008 to 2016 that entailed Booth investing hundreds of thousands of dollars he made from his control of illegal gambling websites.
Booth’s investments were made in a number of real estate companies and properties, and federal prosecutors said Pepper failed to record or document Booth’s involvement, thereby concealing Booth’s ownership stakes that were bought with illegally obtained cash.
Murphy said in his memorandum that Pepper met Booth years before the criminal charges, as Pepper was building his law practice and was struggling to relieve the pressure of managing his work and home lives.
“Harris developed a gambling problem, and, at one time had $250,000 in gambling losses,” Murphy said in the filing. “It was also generally during this time that Harris and others formed and invested in the enterprises that are the subject of these charges. As the attorney among his friends, Harris did the paperwork.”
Pepper volunteered to meet with FBI agents in 2017 and cooperated with authorities during their investigation, Murphy said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Calhoun has requested the court impose the one year, one day sentence recommended in the plea agreement.
Booth will also be sentenced July 2 on five counts of failing to file federal income tax returns, four counts of money laundering and one count each of transmission of wagering information and conspiring to launder money.
Booth has agreed to forfeit $471,572.50 in cash, 24 silver bars and $60,212 in poker chips, as well as another $364,000 in lieu of seizure of two private planes and two Bowling Green properties.
In a separate memorandum filed Monday, Calhoun said Booth has filed tax returns for the years 2011-17, and the government will request a one-year, three-month prison sentence for Booth.
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.