Vegas Shop Owner Says He Was Fooled By Employee

shop owner name tarnished by employee

(previous post)

More details are emerging in the case of Alley Rat Custom Cycles and Nicholas Ghafouria, 26, of Las Vegas,Nevada accused of operating a prescription drug scam in which thousands of pills of Oxycodone were illegally obtained and sold to individuals in Alaska.

In an exclusive interview with USRiderNews, Troy Powell, founder and owner of Alley Rat Custom Cycles said he first learned that Ghafouria was in trouble with the law on October 28th when he arrived at his shop and found Federal authorities executing a search warrant in his shop.

Powell said when he got there the agents were already inside his business and he was told that “this has nothing to do with you or the shop but that Nick (Ghafouria) is in a lot of trouble.”

Powell said he later learned that earlier (6:30 am) agents executed an arrest warrant at the home of Ghafouria.    According to Powell, Ghafouria admitted to agents that no one else at the shop was involved in the alleged drug distribution ring.

He said Ghafouria cooperated and gave agents his keys to the shop and his personal toolbox.  “Thank God he gave them keys to the shop and the alarm code  and keys to his tool box because they would’ve broke this place up getting in.  But they were very respectful; they went through everything and didn’t tear anything up.”

Powell said authorities confiscated a couple of guns Ghafouria had hidden in his tool box as well as some prescription pills.,

Besides the guns and pills, authorities took the computer in the office and the surveillance server.  Powell said they looked through the entire shop.  “There was nothing else here and they (told me) you run a very clean shop. And that was it and they left.   And I hadn’t heard a word from them since.”

Powell said he didn’t hear from Ghafouria or law enforcement and although he knew Ghafouria had to be involved in something serious, he had no clue his business was about to be involved until  he returned from the SEMA show a week later when the indictments were unsealed.  He said he arrived at his shop and a TV news crew showed up.   “I’ve got a camera and a microphone shoved in my face and I didn’t know what was going on.”

Powell says after he read the Federal indictment he began to piece together what Ghafouria was up to.   “While I’m in the back working, he’s got people in the front coming in giving him money or pills or whatever he’s doing.”   He said.  “I feel like such an idiot this would happen in my business without me knowing it.”

Meeting Ghafouria

Powell says he started the business in 2003 in his dad’s garage while he was living at home.  From there he has had several casual partners in the business all helping him move forward.

Powell said he met Ghafouria in February of 2010 (corrected from earlier report) through another customer, Scott Thompson (who was also arrested in this sting by Federal authorities).  Thompson previously owned a motorcycle shop in Vegas and Powell did paint work for him.

Thompson told Powell that Ghafouria had expensive cars he rented to celebrities when they came to Vegas and occasionally they would be damaged and Ghafouria was looking for someone else to do the body work.  After repairing a few cars and some repeat business he and Ghafouria became friends.  Powell says one day the subject came up about the two of them becoming business partners and Ghafouria came into the business with the intention of helping Alley Rat Customs reach the next level.

But, the level went down instead of up. “I thought I’d hit a home run with this guy (Ghafouria) but he was nothing but a liar and a drug dealer and he put us all in a really really bad situation here.”  Powell continued,”Not only did he fool me but he fooled everyone who works here. He fooled even his father.  His dad is devastated and upset; he’s ruined the family name.”

Laundering Drug Money

In the Federal indictment Ghafouria is accused of having control of 9 separate bank accounts.  Powell says the business only had 3 accounts it used for operations and those were the only accounts where both men were signers.  Powell says the way the media made it looked is that Ghafouria owned Alley Rat Cycles  and ran 1.2 million dollars through the business and that’s simply not true.  “When he got arrested all three of our Wellls Fargo accounts were in the negative.”

He said Ghafouria opened the other accounts separately and used Alley Rat’s accounts as a way to attempt to launder some of the money.  “They told me the reason (the business) got listed is he would do transfers, he would put money in (Alley Rat accounts) and move it back and forth.”

Powell said the amounts were insignificant compared to the other accounts.  ‘The most was about (corrected) $31,300 run through one account.”

My whole life is wrapped up in here.  Every screwdriver I’ve ever bought and paid for.  It’s all in here.  I don’t own a home.  I have everything in this building. This is my life, my passion, and it’s the only thing I’m really good at. I’m devastated that I have to defend myself over something so stupid as (him) trying to sell prescription pills. “

Going Forward

On advice from his lawyer, Powell is planning to remove his name and dissolve the corporation Kolor Kreations USA dba Alley Rat Custom Cycles, that Ghafouria filed without his consent.      “I did sign the papers, but that was one step.  We didn’t have an operating agreement yet, and we didn’t have a lot of things in place first, which you’re supposed to do.  That paper was supposed to be left in a file until all these other things are met, and that didn’t happen and he went ahead and filed it anyways.”

Powell said Ghafouria also put people on the incorporation papers who were not even employees

Powell says he has no plans to change the name of the business.  “I’ve had this name for 10 years and I did nothing wrong. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of with that name, other than it does have a black eye now.  My feeling is that if you change the name, then you’re trying to hide something.   I’m not going to hide from this because I did nothing wrong“

(This story was edited Nov. 11 4pm est to correct the date Powell says he first met Ghafouria and to change the amount of money that was run through one of Alley Rat Cycles bank account)

Shop Employee Accused of Illegal Drug Distribution

Federal prosecutors have leveled charges against 27 individuals for their alleged involvement in an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation  in Nevada and Alaska involving the distribution of over 6,000 tablets of Oxycodone and the laundering of over $1.2 million, according to Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Eight persons were arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada on  October 28, 2010, and 19 individuals were arrested in Alaska and Las Vegas immediately afterwards.   Twenty-five of the defendants are charged with money laundering conspiracy, and 14 of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone from July 2009 to October 2010.  The defendants are charged in two separate criminal complaints filed in the District of Nevada.

Federal prosecutors say Nicholas Ghafouria, 26, of Las Vegas, is the ringleader of a trafficking operation that got 6,000 tablets of oxycodone using bogus prescriptions in Las Vegas, then sent them for sale in Alaska. He is also employed at Alley Rat Custom Cycles, where prosecutors say he used his position to launder the drug money.

Federal officials believe that sometime beginning in June 2009, Ghafouria and another Las Vegas resident, Ki Yong Parker, used prescriptions in their names to acquire approximately 6,200 tablets of Oxycodone, which were distributed in Alaska.  Ghafouria also allegedly obtained oxycodone through Las Vegas resident Demetha Jackson.  The complaints allege that the other defendants worked for Ghafouria as money launderers and/or drug traffickers in Las Vegas and Soldotna, Kenai, Wasilla, Anchor Point, and Anchorage, Alaska.  The Alaska defendants allegedly sold the oxycodone pills in Alaska, and deposited the drug proceeds in bank accounts in the names of Ghafouria and several co-conspirators.  The drug proceeds were then withdrawn by co-conspirators in Las Vegas.  The complaint alleges that from July 24, 2009, through October 2, 2010, over $1.2 million in cash proceeds from the distribution of oxycodone was deposited into nine Las Vegas-based bank accounts controlled by Ghafouria and his co-conspirators.

It is alleged that Ghafouria attempted to legitimize the money earned from the drug distribution business by his involvement in  a custom motorcycle and paint shop named Alley Rat Custom Cycles, located at 3965 E. Patrick Lane, in Las Vegas.  The complaint states that oxycodone pills are delivered to Ghafouria at Alley Rat, and that Ghafouria used persons (mules) to transport the pills from the business to Alaska via commercial airlines.

(*Edited 12:19 pm est 11/10/2010 to include quote from Troy Powell and information from Las Vegas Business license division and a link to the Federal indictment)

According to records obtained by USRiderNews, Alley Rat Custom Cycles first obtained a business license in May of 2005.  Listed on that license is William T. Powell and James B. Ritter.  That business is listed as closed and in May of 2010, a new license was issued to Troy Powell and Nicholas Ghafouria.

In an interview with local ABC news affiliate Channel 13, Powell stated that Ghafouria had no ownership in the business other than as an employee.  “We run a legitimate business,”  Powell says. “We’ve been here for ten years. We had no clue. This has nothing to do with us. I guess everyone can hire a bad apple.”

“I’m a painter, and I needed people to help me run the office,” Troy says. “We were looking at partnership, but nothing was finalized.