Ishaan Shah Pittsburgh Indian Financial Specialist

Nagpur Indian Businessman Jeetendra Harish Belani Pleads Guilty to Drug Importation, Smuggling and Money Laundering

December 9, 2019 - Jeetendra Harish Belani (37), an Indian businessman and operator of drug distribution entity LeeHPL Ventures, pleaded guilty today to drug importation, smuggling and money laundering offenses in Pittsburgh, PA federal court.

Belani Guilty Plea
Jeetendra Harish Belani, a/k/a Jeetu's guilty plea includes: Besides pleading guilty to three counts of charges, Belani of Nagpur, India accepted responsibility to following five counts: In addition to accepting responsibilty to another five counts, Jeetendra Harish Belani agreed to forfeit a total of $100,000 as part of a written plea deal.

Belani Indictment & Arrest
Jeetendra Harish Belani was arrested on June 3, 2019 in Czech Republic and was subsequently extradited to the United States to face the charges related to drug importation, smuggling and money laundering.

A federal grand jury indicted Jeetendra Harish Belani on a total of eight counts on June 26, 2019.

According to the case documents & plea hearing:
....Belani admitted that he operated a drug-distribution entity based in India called LeeHPL Ventures. Belani also maintained an associated website— Between 2015 and 2019, Belani admitted that he and his co-conspirators, through LeeHPL Ventures, imported into the United States various drugs available only by prescription, including tapentadol, a Schedule II controlled substance, as well as tramadol, carisoprodol, and modafinil, all Schedule IV controlled substances.

In addition, Belani admitted that between 2015 and mid-2017, he worked with two co-conspirators in the United States—William Kulakevich and Julia Fees—to unlawfully smuggle a drug known as etizolam into the United States so that Kulakevich and Fees could resell it via a website they operated— Etizolam is part of a class of drugs similar to benzodiazepines, which are often used to treat insomnia and anxiety and carry a potential for abuse and overdose. To evade detection by United States Customs and Border Protection officials, Belani admitted that he and his co-conspirators used false customs declarations that mischaracterized and undervalued the contents of packages sent to the United States by LeeHPL Ventures. In addition, Belani caused drug shipments to be broken into smaller quantities and shipped to multiple addresses to help ensure delivery and avoid interception by United States customs authorities.

Likewise, Belani admitted that he caused co-conspirators to initiate payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars from accounts in the United States to accounts he controlled in India or in other locations outside the United States, all as a means to promote his continued efforts to smuggle drugs into the United States.
Potential Penalty & Sentencing
On the count of drug importation conspiracy charge, Jeetendra Harish Belani faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.

And, the smuggling conspiracy charge against Belani carries a a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

On the count of money laundering conspiracy charge Jeetendra Harish Belani faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

The actual sentence, however, would be determined by the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.