HOME ELEVATION COMPANY, OWNER AND ANOTHER MAN INDICTED FOR CONSPIRING TO HARBOR ILLEGAL ALIENS, MONEY LAUNDERING AND STRUCTURING FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS
LOUISIANA HOME ELEVATIONS, L.L.C., a Ponchatoula-based home elevation and shoring company; its owner, CHRISTOPHER BENSON, age 31, a resident of Ponchatoula; and ADOLFO HERNANDEZ, age 29, a resident of Metairie, were charged today in a seven-count indictment by a Federal Grand Jury for conspiring to harbor aliens, conspiring to launder money, engaging in monetary transactions with property or funds derived from the harboring of illegal aliens, and structuring financial transactions, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, from December 2009 until August 2011, LOUISIANA HOME ELEVATIONS, BENSON, and HERNANDEZ, conspired to conceal, harbor, and shield from detection illegal aliens by providing them employment with LOUISIANA HOME ELEVATIONS. The defendants are also charged with conspiring to conduct monetary transactions designed to conceal the nature and source of the proceeds of their harboring of illegal aliens or to promote their harboring of illegal aliens.
LOUISIANA HOME ELEVATIONS and BENSON are further charged with engaging in monetary transactions in property or funds valued at greater than $10,000, which they knew derived from harboring illegal aliens, specifically a business bank account from which single withdrawals were made in the form of a check in an amount of approximately $36,000 to pay for a vehicle and a check in the amount of approximately $56,000 made payable to HERNANDEZ. LOUISIANA HOME ELEVATIONS, BENSON, and HERNANDEZ are also charged in three separate counts with structuring financial transactions for the purpose of evading reporting requirements through the issuance of multiple checks by LOUISIANA HOME ELEVATIONS to HERNANDEZ.
If convicted, LOUISIANA HOME ELEVATIONS, faces up to $2 million in fines. BENSON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of sixty-five (65) years, up to $2 million in fines and three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. HERNANDEZ faces up to forty-five (45) years of imprisonment, up to $1.5 million in fines and three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
Speaking on today’s indictment, Jim Lee, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Office, stated:
“Structuring financial transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements is a criminal violation of federal law under the Bank Secrecy Act. Deliberately avoiding BSA requirements is a form of money laundering that will be vigorously investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation.”
U. S. Attorney Letten reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Homeland Security Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert Weir.
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