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September 30, 2010

BOSTON, Mass. - The former accountant of North Attleboro-based, Ocean Fresh Seafood, Inc., was charged today in federal court today with concealing a scheme to defraud Wells Fargo Business Credit, Inc., a division of Wells Fargo Bank NA, of at least $7 million.

FRED GUARINO, 62, of Rehobeth, was charged with misprision of felony. According to the Information, Guarino, a certified public accountant, and his East Providence-based firm of Dacey & Guarino and Company, audited the financial statements of Ocean Fresh Seafood, Inc., headquartered in North Attleboro. It is alleged that Guarino knew that, since 2002, Wells Fargo had extended a line of credit to Ocean Fresh, which was secured by Ocean Fresh’s accounts receivable and inventory. The former owner of Ocean Fresh, ROBERT COUTU, along with the assistance of other Ocean Fresh employees, had allegedly inflated Ocean Fresh’s receivables and inventory balances in order to borrow millions of dollars more than their actual business activity would have permitted. It is further alleged that in order to accomplish the scheme, Coutu and others, created false invoices and wired funds from Ocean Fresh’s bank account to accounts managed by affiliates and friends of Coutu. According to the Information, this was done in order to give the appearance that Ocean Fresh was buying and selling much more product than it actually was.

It is alleged in the Information that Guarino signed blank checks which Coutu and his employees used to “pay” the fictitious receivables. Guarino allegedly signed off on Ocean Fresh’s financial statements which were provided to Wells Fargo, even after he and others working for him questioned the authenticity of Ocean Fresh invoices.

In a separate case, Coutu has pleaded guilty to bank fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. In addition, Ocean Fresh’s former Controllers, CHRISTOPHER DAY and CYNTHIA LAROSE were indicted for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, along with Coutu. Larose has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Day is awaiting trial.

If convicted, Guarino faces up to three years imprisonment, to be followed by one year of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Boston Field Division and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation - Boston Field Office made the announcement today.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah E. Walters and Vassili N. Thomadakis of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

The details contained in the Information and Indictments are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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