NEWARK, NJ — Four New Jersey men have been charged for their alleged roles in drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
William Panzera, 49, of North Haledon, New Jersey; Thomas Padovano, 48, and Bartholomew Padovano, 71, both of Newark; and Sean Tighe, 46, of Kearny, New Jersey, are each charged in a second superseding indictment of one count of drug trafficking conspiracy and one count of international promotional money laundering conspiracy. Thomas and Bartholomew Padovano are also charged with conspiracy to launder money for domestic concealment.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Since at least 2014, the defendants and others have imported and distributed various controlled substances and analogues of controlled substances, including ketamine, ethylone, several fentanyl analogues and synthetic cathinones, also known as “bath salts”. Members of the drug trafficking organization ordered the drugs from sources in China. They stored and distributed the controlled substances from a trailer on Delancey Street in Newark. They also bought one or more pill presses and squeezed the fentanyl analogues into little blue pills designed to look like a commercial opioid pill and marketed as such. These pills contained varying amounts of fentanyl analogues and resulted in at least three overdoses between 2016 and 2020.
The defendants allegedly paid for the drugs they imported by sending, or recruiting others to send, international wire transfers to Chinese supply sources.
To conceal and disguise the nature and source of illicit narcotics proceeds, Thomas and Bartholomew Padovano made numerous cash deposits into various personal and business accounts. International electronic payments, as well as cash deposits, were structured to avoid suspicion.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited Department of Homeland Security Special Agents – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), under Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina; and postal inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under Inspector in Charge Damon Wood, Philadelphia Division, the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the Philadelphia HSI, FBI – Newark Division, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Newark Police Department, and Essex County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sammi Malek from the Newark Criminal Division and trial prosecutors Stephen Sola and Michael Khoo from the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.
This case was investigated under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OECDTF), a partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies aimed at improving the identification, the arrest and prosecution of those involved in gang-related activities, violent crimes, and drug distribution. The OECDTF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OECDTF program is available at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The charges and allegations contained in the second indictment are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.