Whitley County, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - A Whitley County man and philanthropist is under investigation for laundering money for a drug cartel.
Duane Ducharme was arrested last month outside of an office supply store in Plano, Texas, according to records in Collin County. Ducharme had a plastic tub in the trunk of his car filled with cash, “wrapped in a manner that is consistent with the way the drug traffickers wrap up currency prior to transporting the currency of Mexico.”
Ducharme, 70, was initially charged with money laundering in Texas, though it appears from Collin County court records the preliminary state case has been closed.
He was released late last week from the Collin County Jail on a $40,000 bond. However, a federal criminal case is being put together, Collin County Judge Paul M. Raleeh said.
On April 13, investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spotted two vehicles at a storage facility in Plano, Texas. One vehicle was a black Honda SUV, which had an Indiana license plate. The other vehicle was a black Chevrolet Impala with Texas plates and was driven by Ducharme. One of the men put a blue plastic tub in the trunk of the Impala.
Ducharme drove to a nearby OfficeMax and purchased a shipping box. Law enforcement officers approached him when he came out.
After asking him if he had been in the facility and he said yes. Ducharme said he was in town for business and had picked up some money to be used to purchase stock, according to court documents.
They asked him to open up the trunk and he complied. They opened the tub and saw four individually wrapped square bundles.
The man driving the SUV was not charged with any crime. However, when questioned by agents he said he gave Ducharme $500,000 in cash. The money was placed in the plastic tub and transferred at the storage area.
The man said he explained to Ducharme that the currency was the proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs.
Many people in Whitley County are sad to hear someone from their community is in this type of trouble.
"It's a good community, the people are nice, then that comes up and it's a bad name for the county, yeah, and a lot of people around it," said Jerry Terman, Columbia City.
"I think it's giving a lot of people, kind of, an awakening, you know, here in Whitley County, I really do. Like it could happen in our county too. We fell like we're pretty safe but when we hear about this and we've lived around him for years probably, you're thinking, oh ok," said Lynn Todd, Columbia City.
Ducharme is also known for philanthropy in his community. The Journal Gazette reports he gave $10,000 to Youth For Christ in Fort Wayne and to Interfaith Mission in Columbia City.
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