FORMER CONTROLLER OF NORTH ATTLEBORO SEAFOOD DEALER CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT BANK FRAUD
BOSTON, MA - A former Controller of Ocean Fresh Seafood, Inc. was charged today with engaging in a scheme to defraud Wells Fargo Business Credit, Inc., a division of Wells Fargo Bank NA.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Susan Dukes, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service , Criminal Investigation - Boston Field Office and Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Boston Field Division announced that CHRISTOPHER DAY, age 48, of Rhode Island, was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The owner and President of Ocean Fresh, ROBERT COUTU, age 53, also was charged in the Superseding Indictment. COUTU had been charged previously in a 17 count Indictment with conspiracy, bank fraud, and money laundering. CYNTHIA LAROSE, age 40, of South Attleboro, Massachusetts, has already pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and is awaiting sentencing.
According to the Superseding Indictment, COUTU was the owner and President of Ocean Fresh Seafood, Inc., headquartered in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. It is alleged that beginning before August 1, 2005, COUTU orchestrated a scheme to defraud Wells Fargo, which, since 2002, extended a line of credit to Ocean Fresh. The Wells Fargo line of credit was secured by Ocean Fresh’s accounts receivable and inventory. According to the Superseding Indictment, COUTU, with the assistance of both DAY and LAROSE, falsely inflated Ocean Fresh’s receivables and inventory balances in order to borrow millions of dollars more than the company’s actual business activity would have permitted. The Superseding Indictment further alleges that, to accomplish their scheme, COUTU, DAY and LAROSE created false invoices and wired funds from Ocean Fresh’s bank account to accounts managed by affiliates and friends of COUTU to create the appearance that Oceanfresh was buying and selling much more product than it actually was.
If convicted on these charges, COUTU faces up to 30 years imprisonment, to be followed by five years supervised release, and a $1,000,000 fine on the bank fraud charge and up to 10 years imprisonment, to be followed by three years supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on each of the 15 money laundering charges. Both COUTU and DAY face 5 years imprisonment, three years supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah E. Walters and Vassili Thomadakis of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.
The details contained in the Superseding Indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.