A car dealer who specializes in buying and selling Chevrolet Corvettes will not go to prison for laundering money for pimps.
A federal judge sentenced William Bartenstein yesterday to three years of probation, including four months of electronically monitored home detention, for failing to report to the Internal Revenue Service single cash transactions of more than $10,000.
U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor also ordered Bartenstein, 70, to pay a $10,000 fine and to perform 100 hours of community service.
"You were assisting in the prostitution business and you were laundering the money for them," Gillmor said.
Bartenstein was facing up to 16 months in prison and a $30,000 fine. However, prosecutors asked Gillmor for a lighter punishment because Bartenstein has been cooperating with investigators.
So far, Bartenstein’s cooperation has not resulted in the prosecution of any pimps, said Louis Bracco, assistant U.S. attorney, and Bracco said he is not optimistic that there ever will be any prosecutions.
The IRS started investigating Bartenstein, who operates the Corvette Center Ltd., in 2003 after an informant reported that Bartenstein was willing to launder money or structure large cash transactions to evade reporting requirements.
During the joint investigation with Honolulu police, authorities noticed suspected pimps and a suspected narcotics trafficker were driving cars bought by Bartenstein registered in other people’s names.