Richmond store owner sentenced to nearly 21 years

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comFebruary 6, 2013 

A former Richmond clothing store owner was sentenced to nearly 21 years in federal prison Wednesday on charges that he conspired to deal cocaine and used his store to conceal his drug trafficking.

U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood sentenced Jakolbe Chenault, 30, also known as "Kolbe Cheese," to 250 months in prison after he was convicted of conspiring to distribute cocaine and launder drug money, U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Kyle Edelen said in a news release.

Edelen, citing court documents, said Chenault helped lead a large cocaine trafficking ring and distributed at least 3.5 kilograms of cocaine in Madison County from May 2009 until October 2011. More than 10 other people were part of the conspiracy, Edelen said.

Chenault said in an October plea agreement that he and business partner Ruben Catching, a co-defendent, owned Ja Ru's New Fashions in Richmond. Chenault also admitted that the store was used to launder money from their drug trafficking. Chenault admitted that they used drug money "to help maintain the store's day-to-day viability" and for financial transactions. That included buying merchandise for the store and financing merchandise-buying trips, the plea agreement said.

Chenault admitted that he and a girlfriend conspired to launder drugs by buying a home on Oakland Avenue in Richmond. Chenault also used drug money to buy several vehicles.

The federal government seized the home and five vehicles, Edelen said.

Chenault faced 10 years to life in prison.

Judge Hood enhanced Chenault's sentence because Chenault qualified as a career offender, with two or more previous violent crime or drug-trafficking offenses.

Under federal law, Chenault must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

Catching was sentenced earlier to 100 months, or more than eight years, Edelen said. Thirteen other defendants whose cases were related received prison sentences ranging from a year and a day to 10 years.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.

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