Father, Son Sentenced to Prison for Bank Fraud and Money Laundering
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced today that two former residents of Destin, Florida, Gary Wayne Thomas, 64, of Daphne, Alabama, and Brian Keith Thomas, 40, of Birmingham, Alabama, were sentenced by Chief U.S. District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers to serve time in a federal prison. Gary Wayne Thomas was sentenced to 72 months in prison and Brian Keith Thomas was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
Both men were charged with conspiracy to structure cash withdrawals and structuring cash withdrawals to avoid the Currency Transaction Reporting (CTR) requirement, conspiring to commit bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Gary Thomas was also charged with money laundering, failure to appear, possession of a firearm and ammunition by a person under indictment, and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a fugitive from justice.
Brian Thomas, the son, went to trial during the week of July 22, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers and was convicted of all counts. The father, Gary Thomas, pled guilty to all charges on October 30, 2013.
The evidence showed that between January 1, 2008, and November 1, 2008, Gary Thomas and Brian Thomas caused approximately $4,550,000 to be deposited into their domestic bank accounts and then wired to offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Belize. Shortly thereafter, Gary Thomas stopped making payments on the loans he and his various entities had obtained from New South Federal Savings Bank, now known as Beal Bank. The total amount of the loans was approximately $56 million. In the summer of 2009, the bank filed civil suits against Gary Thomas on these loans.
In a three-year period between 2010 and 2013, Gary Thomas wired approximately $2,150,000 from the offshore banks into several domestic accounts including five accounts that Brian Thomas opened in Destin banks. Thereafter, the father and son conspired to structure withdrawals of cash under $10,000 to avoid the CTR requirement and to hide Gary Thomas’s interest in the funds from his creditor bank. The structured withdrawals were done on roughly 194 occasions and totaled more than $1.6 million.
Gary Thomas used some of these funds to purchase five airplanes, numerous vehicles, and homes in Destin, Florida, and Fairhope, Alabama. Thus far, the government has successfully forfeited the five airplanes; approximately $387,413 in cash, which represents the proceeds of the sale of the home in Fairhope, Alabama; and a $60,000 Hyundai Equus. The government has also obtained monetary judgments of forfeiture against Gary and Brian Thomas in the amounts of $4,970,000 and $1,197,148 respectively.
Ms. Marsh credited the successful prosecution of this case to the joint efforts of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers.