More details are emerging in the case of Alley Rat Custom Cycles and Nicholas Ghafouria, 26, of Las Vegas,Nevada accused of operating a prescription drug scam in which thousands of pills of Oxycodone were illegally obtained and sold to individuals in Alaska.
In an exclusive interview with USRiderNews, Troy Powell, founder and owner of Alley Rat Custom Cycles said he first learned that Ghafouria was in trouble with the law on October 28th when he arrived at his shop and found Federal authorities executing a search warrant in his shop.
Powell said when he got there the agents were already inside his business and he was told that “this has nothing to do with you or the shop but that Nick (Ghafouria) is in a lot of trouble.”
Powell said he later learned that earlier (6:30 am) agents executed an arrest warrant at the home of Ghafouria. According to Powell, Ghafouria admitted to agents that no one else at the shop was involved in the alleged drug distribution ring.
He said Ghafouria cooperated and gave agents his keys to the shop and his personal toolbox. “Thank God he gave them keys to the shop and the alarm code and keys to his tool box because they would’ve broke this place up getting in. But they were very respectful; they went through everything and didn’t tear anything up.”
Powell said authorities confiscated a couple of guns Ghafouria had hidden in his tool box as well as some prescription pills.,
Besides the guns and pills, authorities took the computer in the office and the surveillance server. Powell said they looked through the entire shop. “There was nothing else here and they (told me) you run a very clean shop. And that was it and they left. And I hadn’t heard a word from them since.”
Powell said he didn’t hear from Ghafouria or law enforcement and although he knew Ghafouria had to be involved in something serious, he had no clue his business was about to be involved until he returned from the SEMA show a week later when the indictments were unsealed. He said he arrived at his shop and a TV news crew showed up. “I’ve got a camera and a microphone shoved in my face and I didn’t know what was going on.”
Powell says after he read the Federal indictment he began to piece together what Ghafouria was up to. “While I’m in the back working, he’s got people in the front coming in giving him money or pills or whatever he’s doing.” He said. “I feel like such an idiot this would happen in my business without me knowing it.”
Powell says he started the business in 2003 in his dad’s garage while he was living at home. From there he has had several casual partners in the business all helping him move forward.
Powell said he met Ghafouria in February of 2010 (corrected from earlier report) through another customer, Scott Thompson (who was also arrested in this sting by Federal authorities). Thompson previously owned a motorcycle shop in Vegas and Powell did paint work for him.
Thompson told Powell that Ghafouria had expensive cars he rented to celebrities when they came to Vegas and occasionally they would be damaged and Ghafouria was looking for someone else to do the body work. After repairing a few cars and some repeat business he and Ghafouria became friends. Powell says one day the subject came up about the two of them becoming business partners and Ghafouria came into the business with the intention of helping Alley Rat Customs reach the next level.
But, the level went down instead of up. “I thought I’d hit a home run with this guy (Ghafouria) but he was nothing but a liar and a drug dealer and he put us all in a really really bad situation here.” Powell continued,”Not only did he fool me but he fooled everyone who works here. He fooled even his father. His dad is devastated and upset; he’s ruined the family name.”
Laundering Drug Money
In the Federal indictment Ghafouria is accused of having control of 9 separate bank accounts. Powell says the business only had 3 accounts it used for operations and those were the only accounts where both men were signers. Powell says the way the media made it looked is that Ghafouria owned Alley Rat Cycles and ran 1.2 million dollars through the business and that’s simply not true. “When he got arrested all three of our Wellls Fargo accounts were in the negative.”
He said Ghafouria opened the other accounts separately and used Alley Rat’s accounts as a way to attempt to launder some of the money. “They told me the reason (the business) got listed is he would do transfers, he would put money in (Alley Rat accounts) and move it back and forth.”
Powell said the amounts were insignificant compared to the other accounts. ‘The most was about (corrected) $31,300 run through one account.”
My whole life is wrapped up in here. Every screwdriver I’ve ever bought and paid for. It’s all in here. I don’t own a home. I have everything in this building. This is my life, my passion, and it’s the only thing I’m really good at. I’m devastated that I have to defend myself over something so stupid as (him) trying to sell prescription pills. “
On advice from his lawyer, Powell is planning to remove his name and dissolve the corporation Kolor Kreations USA dba Alley Rat Custom Cycles, that Ghafouria filed without his consent. “I did sign the papers, but that was one step. We didn’t have an operating agreement yet, and we didn’t have a lot of things in place first, which you’re supposed to do. That paper was supposed to be left in a file until all these other things are met, and that didn’t happen and he went ahead and filed it anyways.”
Powell said Ghafouria also put people on the incorporation papers who were not even employees
Powell says he has no plans to change the name of the business. “I’ve had this name for 10 years and I did nothing wrong. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of with that name, other than it does have a black eye now. My feeling is that if you change the name, then you’re trying to hide something. I’m not going to hide from this because I did nothing wrong“
(This story was edited Nov. 11 4pm est to correct the date Powell says he first met Ghafouria and to change the amount of money that was run through one of Alley Rat Cycles bank account)