HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A federal plea agreement that has been sealed since 2019 was made public on Wednesday detailing a six-year conspiracy that involved the distribution of methamphetamine, money laundering and paid protection fees to a retired police officer to help them avoid detection by law enforcement.
The government’s case against Audrey Jean Wolford was originally filed on June 19, 2019, but the case was kept from the public while she cooperated with federal authorities by providing substantial assistance that included full debriefings about her knowledge of illegal conduct.
Wolford pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and engaging in money laundering with proceeds from unlawful activity.
She signed a plea agreement in November 2019 that details years of drug activity with convicted drug dealer Vincent Raymond Rios; a money laundering scheme with convicted felon Eric Aponik; and an agreement she and Aponik had with retired Guam Police Department officer John “Boom” Mantanona.
Mantanona is awaiting trial in an unrelated case for obstruction of justice by influencing a juror during a federal drug trial. He will face a second trial for a charge of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
According to court documents, Wolford and Rios conspired, purchased and distributed more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine that the two purchased with cash in Washington state in 2015. The plea agreement names the drug supplier and a woman they met, and Wolford said the drugs were packaged in flat rate boxes and sent to Guam.
Wolford provided the names of nine individuals to whom she distributed the drugs and said they would return with proceeds of the sale of the methamphetamine, and a portion of the illegal proceeds were put in safety deposit boxes Rios had at two local banks.
The defendant said she sold methamphetamine from her home along Bejong Street in Barrigada and met her customers in hotels and various public places between January 2013 and February 2019.
With all of the cash from the drug distribution, Wolford and Aponik devised a scheme to launder the money. In exchange for an ounce of methamphetamine, Aponik in 2016 agreed to use his employer’s account to launder the money.
He received $125,000 and deposited it into his employer’s bank account and then had his employer write a check in an amount made payable to a local business so Wolford could purchase the home on Bejong Street, the plea agreement states.
In exchange for advice on how to distribute methamphetamine and avoid detection and arrest by law enforcement, Wolford and Aponik paid Mantanona a protection fee, court documents state. The amount of the fees paid was not stated in the plea agreement.
Wolford said Mantanona told her to perform her drug transactions at local hotels and ran license plate numbers, and informed her to avoid individuals he identified as cooperating with the government.
The two devised a text code system for when she wanted him to run a license plate or a name and he would also reply using symbols and code to indicate she was not being watched.
In November 2018, Aponik ordered 250 grams of methamphetamine, which was to be mailed to Guam. Prior to attempting to receive the package, Wolford contacted Mantanona to ensure the activity would not be detected by law enforcement.
She had asked him to stake out the post office to see if there were any officers there.
To be sure there weren’t any law enforcement, Wolford called Mantanona to hear it herself that it was clear. “I just want to hear from you, you know, from your mouth,” she said.
He responded, “So far, so good,” court documents state.
On Nov. 19, 2018, Mantanona informed Aponik it was safe to pick up the package and Wolford attempted to get it but was arrested by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
After she was released, she called Mantanona and informed him she had been arrested and questioned about 250 grams of methamphetamine in the package.
Wolford is scheduled to be sentenced on May 20.