A Grandview business owner pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to bilking $3 million out of a man from whom he’d promised to bribe judges and pay off lawyers in pending drug cases.
Instead of making good on his promises, Shelton E. Lewis, 39, spent the money to gamble in Las Vegas, buy expensive vehicles and purchase luxury items, federal authorities said.
Lewis, who operated Green Results Landscape & Lawncare in Grandview, faced extortion and money laundering charges in this case.
He opened three banking accounts at Academy Bank shortly after launching his business and regularly held small and often negative account balances. That changed in August 2012 when he began depositing large cashier’s and business checks. From August 2012 to August 2013, Lewis deposited more than $3 million. Those funds came from the same company, according to federal authorities.
The extortion scam began in July 2012 when Lewis agreed to sell the local businessman $3,000 worth of cocaine. After that deal tanked, Lewis said that his drug source had assessed a $10,000 “penalty” against the businessman.
The businessman paid it and expected to receive the cocaine. Instead, he received a bag of flour.
The following month, Lewis told the businessman he likely would be caught up in a drug conspiracy case but Lewis knew a lawyer who could bribe the judge. Again, the businessman paid.
More threats followed, including some that promised harm to the businessman’s family. The businessman continued to make payments.
Lewis spent the money on Rolex watches, jewelry, sunglasses, perfume and clothing from Gucci in Las Vegas. He also bought six high-end vehicles, including a Bentley, a Mercedes-Benz, a Chevrolet Camaro and two Aston Martins. Lewis took $100,000 of the proceeds to pay off a mortgage.
He faces up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000.