A trusted, high-level member of a transnational criminal gang who was caught with more than €350k in crime cash has been sentenced to seven years in prison by the Special Criminal Court.
Jason Reed (40) was also found to have five luxury Rolex watches, an encrypted Aquarius phone and to have purchased a mobile home for cash, despite having no source of income.
Reed pleaded guilty last month to money laundering and possessing the proceeds of crime at a car park on Donore Road, Drogheda, Co Louth, when he was in possession of €289,770 in euro and £62,025 (€70,207) in cash in a blue Nike bag on the same date.
Reed, of Maelduin, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, also pleaded guilty to money laundering at his home address after €32,330 and £390 (€441) was found there on May 11 of last year.
At the Special Criminal Court today, Monday, presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that Reed was a "trusted, mid-to-high level member of a transnational criminal organisation".
Mr Justice Hunt said that the organisation trusted Reed with "significant" amounts of money and that he assisted a "pernicious organisation to enjoy the fruits of their destructive activities".
The judge said that Reed "enjoyed the trust of this serious criminal organisation which was in the background in this case".
Mr Justice Hunt said that Reed's behaviour, unlike his convicted co-accused Catherine Dawson, was "not a one-off but representative of a course of conduct", as shown by the use of an encrypted phone, vacuum-packing equipment and a secret compartment in his car operated by a remote key fob.
The judge noted that Dawson, the recipient of a bag of money from Reed, while under garda surveillance drove a car that had a prominent logo for a care-home service on it.
The judge said that the court did not accept Reed's explanation to gardaí that he bought the encrypted phone in Tesco as the supermarket did not sell them.
Mr Justice Hunt set 10 years as the appropriate headline sentence for both offences for Reed, who appeared in court wearing a full-length, blue sanitary apron and face mask.
The judge said that the maximum imprisonment for money laundering offences was 14 years.
Giving credit for Reed's guilty plea and lack of relevant convictions, Mr Justice Hunt sentenced Reed to seven years on both charges with both to run concurrently.
At a previous hearing, Detective Sergeant Adrian Mulligan of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau told Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that Reed had been put under surveillance as part of an investigation into a "transnational criminal group" suspected of money laundering.
Det Sgt Mulligan said that Reed was "central to that investigation" and that surveillance had been put in place at Reed's Dunshaughlin home.
The detective said that Reed had been followed by gardaí when he left his home on May 11, 2021, when he went to the Spar shop on the Donore Road.
Det Sgt Mulligan said that Reed arrived at the car park of the Spar at 5.55pm on the day and met the driver of a black Mercedes, who is also before the courts.
Reed, who was driving a Passat, interacted with the male driver in passing him an envelope before he returned to the Passat.
The detective said that Reed then interacted with the driver of a white Hyundai, Catherine Dawson, who was given a suspended sentence last month for her role in transporting €600,000.
Dawson (44) a care-worker from Bettystown, Co Meath, pleaded guilty before the Special Criminal Court to possessing the cash while knowing or being reckless as to whether the money was the proceeds of criminal conduct.
Dawson was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison at the three-judge court but the term was fully suspended for five years.
Det Sgt Mulligan said that Reed passed a blue duffle bag to Dawson before all three left the car park at the same time.
The detective said that all three vehicles were then stopped by gardaí.
Det Sgt Mulligan said that he retrieved the blue holdall, which had a padlock on it, and tore a hole in its side.
The bag was found to contain €289,770 and £65,000 in vacuum-packed plastic bags.
Reed was arrested and the Passat was taken to Santry Garda Station, where it was found to have been adapted to fit a false compartment that was located between the back seats and the boot and was operated by remote control.
Det Sgt Mulligan said that the purpose of the compartment was "to carry false proceeds, or product".
A warrant for a follow-up search of Reed's house in Dunshaughlin and for a mobile home was obtained by gardaí and both locations were searched.
Cash totalling €32,330 was found in a bedroom locker at Reed's home along with a vacuum-bag packer in his living room.
Five high-end watches - four of which were Rolexes - were also found at Reed's home and valued at €51,000.
An associated search of a mobile home at Riverchapel, Courtown, Co Wexford, yielded a further Rolex watch worth upwards of €3,500 and a quantity of cash, the detective said.
Det Gda Mulligan said that the mobile home was purchased for €17,500 and had been paid for in cash, despite Reed having "no source of income".
Also found in the Passat was an encrypted Aquarius phone, which the detective said was a device used by those "involved in serious criminality
Det Sgt Mulligan said that Reed had three children and a partner and had not paid PRSI since 2008.
The detective said that Reed was "the target" of the Garda investigation and that he was a "trusted, high-level member involved in cash and product" for a "transnational crime organisation".
Det Gda Mulligan said that Reed was "at a very high level regarding this investigation".
Det Garda Mulligan agreed with Patrick McGrath SC, defending, that Reed had co-operated with gardaí and that the defendant had been on bail for over a year without incident.
The detective also agreed that Reed had no relevant previous convictions, had entered an early plea in the case and that he was of "considerable assistance" in the matter.
Mr McGrath said that Reed's daughter and a family friend had come to court to support him.
The barrister said that Reed was at a "middle-to-high" level of involvement with the organisation to which Det Gda Mulligan agreed.
Mr McGrath said that Reed had been raised by his grandparents and had left school at 15 to become a plasterer.
A letter and photos in favour of Reed from Dublin charity Friends Helping Friends, where Reed volunteered, were handed into the court.
Mr McGrath said the photo was of Reed and the charity's founder outside the Central Bank location, where it had operated.
Mr McGrath said that Reed had a difficulty arising from skin cancer and that he recently had a lump removed.
A letter of testimony from a family friend described Reed as a "family man who cherishes his three children".
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