May 20, 2022

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The Car & Automotive Devotees

Roanoke car dealer sentenced to home detention for accepting drug-tainted cash | Local News

2 min read

The owner of a Roanoke auto dealership was placed on home detention Friday for taking $30,000 in drug-tainted cash for a car.

Abdul Ahad Nahibkhil actually accepted the money from agents with the Internal Revenue Service, who led him to believe it was drug proceeds in an undercover investigation of Blue Ridge Auto Sales.

The law Nahibkhil broke is intended to prevent drug dealers from hiding their ill-gotten gains, U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski said during a sentencing hearing on the charge, which is rarely brought in Roanoke.

“Let’s be clear about this: drug dealing destroys people’s lives,” Urbanski said. “And unfortunately, Mr. Nahibkhil’s actions furthered that destruction.”

Nahibkhil, a 36-year-old Afghanistan immigrant, said he was “very, very deeply sorry for what I’ve done.”

“The United States of America has given me a second life and chance to live here,” he said. “If I wasn’t here, I would have been dead a long time ago.”

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Last year, Nahibkhil pleaded guilty to failing to report a 2018 transaction to the IRS after being told that two payments of $15,000 each came from drug trafficking. The undercover exchange was captured on video.

Federal law requires the reporting of cash payments of $10,000 or more within 15 days.

“This was about greed, pure and simple,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Bassford said.

But Bassford did not oppose a sentence of six months of home detention and two years of probation, saying the defendant is “not a bad guy.” Nahibkhil’s only prior convictions were for simple possession of marijuana and failing to appear for a court hearing more than a decade ago.

There was no evidence that Nahibkhil was involved in drug dealing, or that he actually helped a criminal organization conceal its profits, his attorney, Correy Diviney, wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“But he intended to, and that is not something to be scoffed at, as Mr. Nahibkhil has learned the hard way,” Diviney wrote.

With a felony conviction, Nahibkhil faces an uncertain immigration status and may lose his dealer’s license to sell cars.

In letters to Urbanski, family members and friends described Nahibkhil as a hard-working, family man who made a one-time mistake. Although the charge carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison, the judge saw no need for that.

“This is an aberration,” he said of Nahibkhil’s actions.