Published 12:00 am Friday, August 4, 2006

cars found in truck on I-20 handed over to state|[8/4/06].

Property, including $347,100 in cash, taken by authorities during a traffic stop of an 18-wheeler on Interstate 20 six months ago has been handed over to the state.

The westbound truck was being driven on Interstate 20 by Thomas Darryl Nelson, 47, 30 Kirkwood Road, New York, when it was stopped by a Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper at about 12:50 a.m. on Feb. 4, a Saturday.

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The truck, five cars, the money that was inside one of the cars, a pistol, two cell phones, a laptop computer and a camera were seized by agents of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, court documents show.

Nelson was charged with money-laundering and released on $10,000 bond, records show.

After Nelson disavowed ownership of all but the truck, the computer and one of the cell phones, attorneys for the MBN successfully asked Warren County Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick to turn the property over to the state.

No one else has claimed the cash or goods and Patrick granted the MBN request.

The cars were two Fords, a 1994 Taurus and a 1996 Thunderbird; a 1997 Pontiac Bonneville; a 1998 Buick Park Avenue; and a 1992 Lexus LS 400. Court documents indicate that the money was found in the Lexus.

Nelson told much of his story, however, in responses to MBN attorneys’ questions that are included in a court filing by Vicksburg attorney James &#8220Buck” Penley.

The June 6 filing says no illegal drugs were found in the truck or on Nelson and that Nelson &#8220had no knowledge of any money in any vehicle being trailered on his rig. He was informed of the presence of money by a highway-patrol officer.”

Nelson said he was contacted on Jan. 8 about &#8220taking a load of cars” for a man named Rick Donovan.

&#8220He called me later in the month to inform me the cars were ready for transport and were to be parked up on Gin Hill Road in the Bronx, N.Y.,” the document says. &#8220On Jan. 31, I went to the location and three men I did not know and had never seen began bringing the cars to be loaded. One of the men filled out the bills with the vehicle while I loaded. I was advised that Rick Donovan would call me with the destination and they paid me the agreed-upon fees.”

The next day, while in Virginia, Nelson was &#8220contacted by Donovan to go to McAllen, Texas, to meet two people identified only as Juan and Victor for delivery of the vehicles. I was to call Donovan when I approached McAllen for exact details.”

Three days later, Nelson was driving toward Vicksburg when he noticed a highway-patrol car heading east on Interstate 20.

&#8220He put his lights on and pulled me over explaining that he couldn’t read my tags,” Nelson said.

Nelson said he had broken no laws and received no citation.

&#8220I had no knowledge of any money being in the Black 1992 Lexus, so could not possess same,” he said.

The document contains Nelson’s response to an MBN question about &#8220why ammunition found in the cab of the 18-wheeler matched ammunition found in the Smith & Wesson pistol found in the trunk of the 1992 Lexus.”

&#8220I have no knowledge of the pistol found in the trunk of the Lexus,” Nelson said. &#8220I did purchase ammunition for a relative and had it in my truck.”