- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A failed drug deal ended up costing a Kansas City-area businessman $3 million that he thought was going toward bribes to prosecutors and judges but instead was being used to finance the lavish lifestyle of his drug supplier, federal prosecutors said.

Shelton E. Lewis, 39, of Grandview, Mo., is charged with one count of threatening extortionate communications and 18 counts of money laundering. The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on Sept. 18 and unsealed after Lewis was arrested in Atlanta earlier this month.

Federal prosecutors said Lewis agreed to sell a local businessman $3,000 in cocaine in July 2012, but the deal fell through after Lewis saw police talking to the businessman as he waited for the deal to be completed.

Lewis told the businessman the source of the drugs was assessing him a $10,000 penalty because the deal went bad, prosecutors said, which the businessman paid before picking up what he thought was cocaine at a drop location but turned out to be a bag of flour.

In August 2012, Lewis told the man he could recoup his lost money by purchasing a block of cocaine and selling it, the indictment says.

The man paid the requested money and gave Lewis a Rolex watch, prosecutors said. The businessman later was told by Lewis that he was going to be charged with drug conspiracy, but could get out of it by paying bribes to an attorney and the judge handling the case.

A person claiming to be an attorney then contacted the businessman and said an unrelated federal investigation had developed that would require more bribes to clear up, prosecutors said.

The businessman then was contacted by someone who said a drug cartel knew where he lived and would cut off the heads of any family member in his home if he didn’t make more payments, prosecutors said.

Instead of paying bribes, Lewis used the money to make multiple cash withdrawals at a casino in Las Vegas, purchase luxury items, including a Rolex watch and several expensive cars, and pay off the mortgage on his Grandview home, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors said they expect Lewis, who remains in custody, to be returned soon to Kansas City to face the charges.

He has no Missouri attorney listed in online court documents, and his public defender in Georgia did not immediately return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

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