The half-brother of former Poospatuck Indian reservation cigarette magnate Rodney Morrison has been arrested by Costa Rican authorities on charges of laundering $30 million that Morrison allegedly made selling cigarettes on Long Island.
Carlos Pascall, who used to work at his kin's Peace Pipe Smoke Shop on the Mastic reservation, had become a prominent businessman in the Central American country. He used the Morrison money to buy a major Costa Rican professional soccer team, the Limon Futbol Club, and other businesses, including a hotel, a supermarket, a discothèque and a restaurant, according to Costa Rican authorities.
Pascall was arrested last week by agents of the economic crimes unit of the Costa Rican national government on charges of money laundering, and will be held for six months by a judge while the investigation continues, authorities said.
Costa Rica's chief prosecutor Jorge Chavarria was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that Pascall's money came from Morrison's "illicit" activities. But there are no plans to charge Morrison, according the Costa Rican prosecutor in charge of the case, Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez.
As he was led from his home after his arrest, Pascall stated, "I am calm, my money is legitimate, I am open to any investigation," a local newspaper said.
Morrison, who, according to U.S. prosecutors, controlled most of the cigarette sales on the Poospatuck reservation, is currently serving a 10-year sentence for conviction on a weapons charges at a 2008 trial where he was acquitted of murder, arson, extortion and robbery.
Morrison's attorney, Richard Levitt, declined to comment, as did Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District which has prosecuted Morrison.
Pascall, who holds dual United States and Costa Rican citizenship, faces between eight to 20 years in prison, as well as forfeiture of an undetermined amount of money, if convicted, said Hernandez Ramirez.
Hernandez Ramirez said, through a translator, that Morrison sent the money to Pascall before he was arrested in 2004 so that U.S. authorities could not seize the funds due to the criminal charges against him.
The prosecutor said that Pascall will not be extradited to the United States, but will be tried in Costa Rica.
Morrison was also convicted at the 2008 trial in federal court in Central Islip of racketeering for operating a bootlegging scheme involving the sale of untaxed cigarettes.
But U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley overturned that conviction on the grounds that Morrison did not have clear knowledge that the sale of the untaxed cigarettes was illegal.
Federal prosecutors are appealing Hurley's decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Morrison is appealing the weapons charges.