Father, Son Convicted of Bank Fraud and Money Laundering
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh announced today that Gary Wayne Thomas, 64, of Daphne, Alabama, and Brian Keith Thomas, 40, of Birmingham, Alabama, both former residents of Destin, Florida, have been convicted for their involvement in a bank fraud and money laundering scheme. 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.
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. Brian Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced on November 15, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. by Judge Rodgers. The father, Gary Thomas, pled guilty to all charges today and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 22, 2014, at 9 a.m. by Judge Rodgers.
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 five accounts in Destin banks that Brian Thomas opened as well as accounts opened by others. 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. A superseding indictment, returned in May of this year, also identified $1,624,648 in cash as being subject to criminal forfeiture.
Gary Thomas became a fugitive from justice after the superseding indictment was returned. As a result, an additional indictment was returned against Gary Thomas charging him with failure to appear. While Brian Thomas was in court on July 22nd, the United States Marshals Service captured Gary Thomas on Palafox Street in Pensacola, in the now forfeited Hyundai Equus. When Gary Thomas was apprehended, he was in possession of a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver that he obtained in Tallassee, Alabama, while he was a fugitive. A third indictment was returned against Gary Thomas charging him with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a fugitive from justice and transportation of a firearm and ammunition by a person under indictment.
On the original case, each defendant faces maximum penalties of five years in prison for the structuring conspiracy, 10 years for each count of structuring, 30 years for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and 20 years for the conspiracy to commit money laundering. Gary Thomas also faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the money laundering count in the original case. For his failure to appear, Gary Thomas faces up to 10 years in prison consecutive to any sentence he receives in the original case. For the third case, the firearm charges, Gary Thomas faces up to 10 years on each count.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Eggers.