Salt Lake Man Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Fbi Investigation of Check Kiting Scheme
Reno, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, and Ellen B. Knowlton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI for Nevada, announces that JON CONSTANTINI, age 46, a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Lloyd D. George to the felony offense of Obstruction of an Official Proceeding, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(c).
According to the court records, in approximately November 2000, FBI Agents began investigating allegations of a "check-kiting" scheme in the Las Vegas area. "Check-kiting" occurs when a person deposits a worthless check into an account and makes withdrawals on the monies before the check has cleared. The investigation revealed that between July 7 and October 18, 2000, JON CONSTANTINI caused numerous checks, drawn on a British Virgin Islands bank in CONSTANTINI's name, to be deposited into several Las Vegas bank accounts held in the name of a business associate. The checks totaled approximately $535,000. Immediately after the deposits had been made, CONSTANTINI instructed the business associate to either wire the monies to him in Utah where he resided, or to purchase items, such as luxury automobiles, in his name. The majority of the checks drawn on CONSTANTINI's British Virgin Islands bank account were returned to the Las Vegas bank accounts for insufficient funds.
In early November 2000, CONSTANTINI met with FBI agents to explain his actions. CONSTANTINI reported that he had not intended to defraud the banks, and that he had enough money in his British Virgin Islands account at the time to cover the checks deposited in Las Vegas. CONSTANTINI provided the agents a fax copy of a British Virgin Islands bank statement indicating that on August 31, 2000, he had deposited $950,018.50 into the bank account. Pursuant to a treaty between the United States and British Virgin Islands, the United States recently obtained a certified copy of the bank statement, which contained a notation indicating that the deposit of $950,018.50 had been returned for insufficient funds. When they received the original records from the British Virgin Islands, the FBI agents discovered that the notation had been deleted from the fax copy of the statement CONSTANTINI had provided them several years ago. At today's Plea Hearing, CONSTANTINI admitted that he had deleted the notation to thwart the FBI's investigation of the check-kiting scheme.
CONSTANTINI is released on bond pending sentencing. He is facing up to 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and will also be required to make restitution to the victims. The actual sentence will be dictated by the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and will be imposed in the discretion of the Court. CONSTANTINI is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge George on January 24, 2003, at 8:30 a.m.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Special Agents of the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin J. Roberts.