SHREVEPORT BUSINESSES TO BE CLOSED IN CONNECTION WITH MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATION ON PREMISES
SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Mike’s Auto Sales Inc. and A-1 Auto Finance Company were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote. Mike’s Auto Sales was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine, and A-1 Auto Finance was ordered to pay a $350,000 fine. The businesses were also ordered to forfeit $1.3 million in illegal proceeds and the business real estate, buildings, and vehicle inventory belonging to the companies. In addition to the sentenced imposed, the businesses were given five years of probation.
The two businesses, represented by company president Michael Paul Boyter, 51, of Shreveport, each entered guilty pleas on August, 26, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
According to evidence presented at the guilty pleas, the owners and operators of Mike’s Auto Sales and A-1 Auto Finance engaged in a conspiracy to commit money laundering beginning in 1996 through November 2010. The scheme concerned the sale and financing of used and new vehicles to individuals who derived, or represented that they derived, significant income from the distribution of illegal drugs. The operators of the businesses knowingly accepted cash proceeds from drug dealers, allowed vehicle purchases in the names of nominees, and falsified records of payments received. They provided false information to multiple local and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Shreveport Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, to facilitate the release of vehicles seized from drug dealers.
In 2009 and 2010, the FBI conducted multiple “sting” operations directing cooperating individuals to purchase vehicles in the names of nominees and using large cash payments toward the purchase of those vehicles. These operations proved that the defendants readily accepted large amounts of money thought to be drug proceeds and skimmed cash from down payments by manipulating records to show lower sales prices and reduced amounts of down payments. In connection with these activities, Boyter pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.
Boyter was sentenced on February 18, 2014, to 60 months in prison for wire fraud and tax charges. He was also ordered to pay $290,381 in restitution and a $200,000 fine. Company secretary and treasurer, Anthony Reuben Riley, 49, of Shreveport, was also sentenced on February 18, 2014, to 15 months in prison for the failure to file Form 8300 and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. IRS Form 8300 is required when cash payments of more than $10,000 are received in a trade or business and is used by the government to track individuals that evade taxes and those who profit from criminal activities.
“Those who do business with drug dealers will be brought to justice,” Finley stated. “The owners and operators of these businesses sought to not only profit from the criminal element in our communities, but to lie on their tax forms and other documents to make even more illegal profits. This judgment serves as a warning to those who would use their property to stage illegal business transactions - you will be caught, and you can lose everything.” Finley also stated, “I want to thank this extremely dedicated prosecution and investigative team for their hard work on this case.”
This case is part of an investigation called Operation NOMAS conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF is a joint multi-agency group consisting of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies with a cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking.
Operation NOMAS was a jointly conducted investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northwest Louisiana Violent Crimes Task Force, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Shreveport Police Department, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, Bossier City Police Department, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force, and the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office. The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office in Marshall, Texas, also assisted. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Allison D. Bushnell and Cytheria D. Jernigan, and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Willis prosecuted the case.
United States Attorney Finley is available for comment by phone, (337) 262-6888.