Business Owners Convicted of Wire Fraud and Money Laundering for Roles in Automotive Battery Theft Ring
Tampa, FL - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that a federal jury today found Christian Lee Hancock (35, Riverview) and Tina Inez Schneider (36, Riverview) guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and structuring financial transactions to evade federal currency transaction reporting requirements, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and substantive wire fraud, money laundering, and structuring charges. Hancock and Schneider each face a maximum penalty of twenty years in federal prison, along with substantial fines and restitution orders. Their sentencing hearings will be scheduled for early 2012.
Hancock and Schneider were indicted on October 26, 2010.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Hancock and Schneider were the owners and operators of Gator Core Inc., a secondary metal recycling company in Riverview. Hancock was the President of Gator Core, Inc., and Schneider was the Vice President. Over a three-year period between 2006 and 2009, Hancock and Schneider conspired with others to steal hundreds of tractor-trailer loads of used automotive batteries that were destined for Envirofocus Technologies, a lead smelter in the Tampa area, and Johnson Controls, Inc. Co-conspirators, some of whom previously pled guilty for their roles in the conspiracy, falsified documents and records in order to conceal the thefts of more than 8 million pounds of batteries from Envirofocus. Hancock and Schneider then re-sold the batteries through Gator Core for a substantial profit, and conducted financial transactions with the profits in violation of federal money laundering and structuring laws. The conspiracy resulted in a loss to Envirofocus and Johnson Controls of almost $3.4 million.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office's -District IV. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Josephine W. Thomas and Matthew P. Jackson.