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ACCOUNTANT FOR SEAFOOD DEALER SENTENCED FOR ROLE IN CONCEALING $7 MILLION BANK FRAUD

February 18, 2011

BOSTON, Mass. - The former accountant of North Attleboro-based, Ocean Fresh Seafood, Inc., was sentenced yesterday in federal court today for his role in 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 sentenced by United States District Judge Joseph L. Tauro, to three years probation and ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to Wells Fargo and a $4,000 fine.

On November 17, 2010, GUARINO pleaded guilty to misprision of felony. GUARINO, a certified public accountant, and his East Providence-based firm, Dacey & Guarino and Company, audited the financial statements of Ocean Fresh Seafood, Inc. As GUARINO knew, since 2002, Wells Fargo had extended a line of credit to Ocean Fresh, secured by Ocean Fresh’s accounts receivable and inventory. The former owner of Ocean Fresh, Robert Coutu, with the assistance of other Ocean Fresh employees, had inflated Ocean Fresh’s receivables and inventory balances in order to borrow millions of dollars more than their actual business activity would have permitted. 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 in order to give the appearance that Ocean Fresh was buying and selling much more product than it actually was.

GUARINO signed blank checks which Coutu and his employees used to “pay” the fictitious receivables. GUARINO also signed off on Ocean Fresh’s financial statements, which were provided to Wells Fargo, even after he and others working for him had questioned the authenticity of Ocean Fresh invoices. a

Coutu has pleaded guilty to bank fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. In addition, Ocean Fresh’s former Controllers, Christopher Day and Cynthia Larose have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, along with Coutu. Larose was sentenced to three years probation. Coutu and Day are awaiting sentencing.

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

 

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