Odenton Man Sentenced To Prison For Laundering More Than $1.5 Million In Scheme To Steal Waste Vegetable Oil
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Anthony Jean-Claude, age 40, of Odenton, Maryland today to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for laundering over $1.5 million, in connecting with a scheme to steal waste vegetable oil. Judge Motz also entered an order requiring Jean-Claude to pay restitution and forfeiture of $1,586,747.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
“Jean-Claude’s actions were motivated by pure greed as evidenced by the more than $1.5 million in laundered fraud proceeds he received while perpetuating a waste vegetable oil scheme,” said Thomas J Kelly, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to unraveling money laundering schemes such as this, where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their money. Today’s sentencing shows IRS-CI, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, will continue to bring cases like these to justice.”
Waste collection businesses contract with local restaurants to collect waste vegetable oil which is used to make bio-diesel fuel or processed as an additive for animal feed. Waste collection businesses place recycling containers behind the restaurants with which they have contracts. When the containers are full, the businesses collect the oil using a vacuum truck.
According to his plea agreement, from May through October 2010, Jean-Claude and a friend stole waste vegetable oil from restaurants in Maryland and Virginia using a tow truck owned by his friend. Jean-Claude and his friend stored the stolen oil at a warehouse near Waterview Avenue in Baltimore County, then sold the oil to out-of-state oil companies.
At the end of October, Jean-Claude’s friend developed a legitimate waste vegetable oil collection company named Waste Not Inc. The friend purchased a vacuum truck, hired salesmen to assist him, and eventually obtained 650 contracts to collect waste vegetable oil from restaurants. From June through October, 2011, Jean-Claude’s friend collected the oil pursuant to the contracts and sold the oil to Jean-Claude.
In May 2011, Jean-Claude used a straw purchaser to buy a truck which was titled in the name of Waste Not. The truck was used to steal waste vegetable oil from restaurants that did not have a collection contract with Waste Not. The driver of that truck was caught stealing waste vegetable oil in July 2011.
In late 2011, Jean-Claude met R.F. during a renovation project at Jean-Claude’s home. Jean-Claude requested that R.F. lease a large warehouse facility to collect, process and sell waste vegetable oil. The owner of Waste Not took both his legitimate waste vegetable oil and the stolen oil to the facility, located at 1701 Leland Avenue in Middle River. Jean-Claude then sold the waste vegetable oil to fuel companies in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The proceeds of these transactions were directed back to Jean-Claude through a bank account in the name of Rafxcel Services, which account was held by both R.F. and Jean-Claude.
Jean-Claude subsequently used the straw purchaser to buy another truck in October 2011. A conspirator used the truck to steal waste vegetable oil from 20 locations in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The conspirator then took the stolen oil to the Leland Avenue facility. From January 5, 2012 through October 1, 2012, approximately $1,586,747 was deposited in the Rafxcel account for the sale of waste vegetable oil to companies in Maryland, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
The operations manager at the Leland Avenue facility received checks from Jean-Claude in the name of the manager’s wife, which were drawn on the Rafxcel business account. Jean-Claude directed the manager to cash the checks, use a portion of the cash for the operations of the Leland Avenue facility, and give the remainder of the cash back to Jean-Claude.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Baltimore County Police Department and IRS – Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory R. Bockin, who prosecuted the case.