Edwardsville men tried to move almost $400,000 in drug money cross-country, police say

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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

Two Edwardsville men have been accused of trying to move almost $400,000 of drug money through Illinois to California in an RV, according to documents filed in federal court.

Drug Enforcement Agency task force officers arrested Neil A. Brinson and Paul J. Parisi in late March on westbound Interstate 70 in Madison County after police found marijuana and $392,126 in cash in their RV. The two were originally pulled over for improper lane usage, according to police.

Brinson and Parisi had laundered the money and intended to deliver cannabis, according to criminal charges filed in Madison County. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois filed a complaint in federal court to transfer ownership of the cash to the government.

Brinson was driving the RV when officers pulled him over and asked him where he and Parisi were going, DEA Officer Larry Brantly stated in the complaint. Brinson told him they were headed to see a friend in San Diego, according to the complaint.

Parisi showed signs of nervousness when officers asked for his identification, including shaky hands and a trembling voice, Brantley stated in the complaint. Parisi had several drug charges on his record spanning from 2004 to 2017, including multiple charges for possession and transportation of controlled substances, DEA Officer Kyle Waddington stated in the complaint.

As officers awaited a K-9 unit to search the RV, Brinson offered “the little bit of weed that I have,” the complaint stated. He retrieved a toiletry bag from the RV with a small bag of marijuana and multiple marijuana-laced candies and gave it to one of the officers, according to police testimony.

“Will you just leave me alone now?” Brinson said, according to the complaint.

That gave the DEA officers probable cause to search the RV, according to the complaint. Inside, they found several duffel bags containing money in vacuum-sealed bags. Shortly afterward, the K-9 unit arrived and positively identified the presence of marijuana in the RV. When they searched the RV, officers found marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Parisi and Brinson were taken to the Pontoon Beach Police Department where they were interviewed separately, according to the complaint. Brinson claimed ownership of the money found in the RV, according to police. He told officers the money was a “drop in the bucket” compared to the amount of money he makes, according to the complaint.

Parisi said he had no idea the drugs or currency were inside the RV and said the only money he possessed was the money in his pocket, according to the complaint.

Brinson, on the other hand, said he and Parisi were driving to San Diego to “party and have fun,” Brantley stated in the complaint. Brinson told police the money in the RV was “party money.”

On Oct. 17, Brinson and Parisi were charged in Madison County with two counts of money laundering and one count of unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver.

The latest Madison County court records indicated an arrest warrant issued for Brinson was still active on Nov. 1. It was unclear whether Parisi had been arrested on the warrant issued for him Oct. 17.

Hana Muslic: 618-239-2626, @h_muslic