News and Press Releases

Former Owner of Nevada ATM CompanyPleads Guilty to Money Laundering

April 21, 2004

Reno, Nev. -  The former owner of a Nevada ATM leasing company pleaded guilty today in United States District Court to 10 felony counts of Money Laundering, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

LOUIS M. VALLETTE, age 64, of Las Vegas, was indicted by the Federal Grand Jury in Las Vegas on June 28, 2000. VALLETTE operated ATM Leasing, Inc., a Nevada Corporation which purported to lease ATM machines to merchants and collect transaction fees generated by the ATM machines. In entering his guilty pleas today, VALLETTE admitted that from approximately October 1992 to September 1995, he used the United States mails to carry out a fraudulent "Ponzi" scheme in which he misled approximately 56 victims into believing that they would receive revenues from their investments in an ATM leasing program. In fact, LOUIS M. VALLETTE collected approximately $2,729,000 from the victim-investors and used a substantial portion of the funds for his personal use. VALLETTE admitted that he used $808,360 of the fraudulently-obtained funds to make "lulling payments" to the victims; i.e., payments designed to mislead the victims into believing that their investments were earning a return and to delay the detection of the fraud. Some of the "lulling payments" to victims were drawn on a PriMerit Bank account.

The amount of restitution owed to the victims of the mail fraud is approximately $1,920,640. The amount owed to Wells Fargo Bank, the successor in interest of PriMerit Bank, is $32,250.64. The defendant also agreed to forfeit the proceeds of his unlawful activity, including $808,360 in U.S. currency.

VALLETTE is facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the transaction. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 9, 2004, before Chief U.S. District Judge Phillip M. Pro.

A warrant was issued for the defendant's arrest on June 28, 2000, the date the Indictment was returned by the Grand Jury. Mr. Vallette surrendered himself to FBI officials in Vancouver, Washington, on September 3, 2003. He has been in custody since that date.

The case was investigated by Special Agents with IRS Criminal Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Dougherty and Margaret M. Stanish.

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