Did the wife and associates of convicted drug dealer and money launderer Kevin Perry try to dupe the Worcester License Commission into helping them launder drug money?
Judge for yourself.
On July 13, 2017, four months after the feds indicted Mr. Perry on money laundering, fentanyl distribution, and aggravated cash structuring charges, representatives of The Usual, one of the businesses he allegedly started with his ill-gotten gains, appeared before the Worcester License Commission on what appeared to have been an attempt to shelter the business from the fallout of Mr. Perry's indictment.
Anthony Salvidio (chairman), Walter Shea and Barbara Haller were the commissioners in attendance. Police Lt. James Johnson, the man responsible to do background checks on license applicants, was also present.
The agenda noted that The Usual Corp. at 166 Shrewsbury St would be requesting a transfer of stock, change of officers, directors, change of managers.
The business was also requesting to change its name to the Chameleon, an apt moniker given that five months later the feds would seize the property on the grounds that it was bought and maintained by illegal drug money.
In February Mr. Perry’s wife, Stacey Gala, and restaurant manager Joseph Herman were charged with using drug money Mr. Perry had stashed in a Northboro storage locker to continue operating the restaurant.
In 2016, when Lt. Johnson cleared the license applications for The Usual and Blackstone Tap at 81 Water St, another of Mr. Perry’s businesses, he said it was outside his purview to know that both properties were bought with drug money - $500,000 for the 166 Shrewsbury St. property and $420,000 for the Water Street property.
“We only concentrate on the business and management being backgrounded and pass(ed) in order to run the location,” he said in a T&G article March 26, 2017.
“We never deal with business ownership.”
Fine, but surely on July 13, with the indictment of Mr. Perry four months earlier, the amount of money he was throwing around and his marriage to Ms. Gala would have been on his radar. Shouldn’t the possibility that Mr. Perry’s drug money was used to renovate The Usual and reopen it as The Chameleon, as the feds have charged, have crossed his mind?
Lt. Johnson certainly was aware of some inconsistencies that he wanted to get on the record.
He noted, for example, that the petitioners were no longer requesting a change in stock.
“I spoke to both of these gentlemen. They both said they were 20 percent stockholders and Stacey was 60 percent,” he said, referring to Devon Senior, the new manager of the Chameleon, and Joseph Herman, an officer of the corporate venture, both of whom were in attendance.
“That wasn’t the case, right?" he asked of them.
Mr. Herman nodded and muttered something about changing his mind.
Their attorney, Donna Truex, confirmed that Ms. Gala would retain 100 percent ownership.
“Down the road we may do a change of stock, but we first needed to get clearance … we need to sort out a lot of issues," she said.
Lt. Johnson then asked Mr. Herman how much money he had put into the business. Mr. Herman answered $40,000.
“Was it $40,000 you got from relatives and self," Lt. Johnson asked. Mr. Herman answered in the affirmative.
“Some of that stuff I just wanted to get on the record, so you know now,” Lt. Johnson told the commission.
“We're approving that (Mr. Senior being the new manager), but that’s just a couple of things we wanted to put on the record."
Mr. Salvidio, who also noted he was “confused” by the inconsistency about the stock ownership, then said to Mr. Herman and Mr. Senior, “You are unrelated with Stacey in any way. You are just outside people coming in with the situation and investing in it?”
They responded “yes” and “correct.”
Ms. Truex interjected to note, however, that both men were familiar with Ms. Gala, having worked with her previously in other business settings.
Those on-the-record statements solicited by Lt. Johnson became key pieces of evidence later. In their February indictment of Mr. Herman, the feds noted that he lied to the city’s licensing commission by saying he and relatives invested up to $40,000 to renovate The Chameleon.
So, it would appear then while the Chameleon was trying to put one over on the License Commission, it was the commission that was camouflaging its true intentions.
There is no other rational explanation, right?