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News Release
U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island

March 29, 2011

ITALIAN NATIONALS PLEAD GUILTY IN INTERNATIONAL MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Two Italian nationals pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence on Monday to using fraudulent passports with assumed identities to open bank accounts, and then withdrew funds obtained fraudulently and wired them to various foreign countries, it was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Thomas M. Powers, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service; and Warwick Police Chief Colonel Stephen M. McCartney.

Guido Rotondo, 50, and Angelo Papocchia, 44, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to charges of possession of false passports and money laundering.

According to information presented to the court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard B. Myrus and in court documents, Rotondo and Papocchia were money couriers in an Internet scheme to defraud individuals seeking to purchase automobiles online.  After the defendants opened several bank accounts using false passports with assumed identities, other participants in the scheme then placed online advertisements offering various automobiles for sale at attractive prices. 

Interested buyers were directed to wire funds to these accounts and were told that the funds would be held until the buyers took delivery of their vehicles.  After the funds were received in the accounts, the defendants quickly withdrew the fraudulently-acquired money and wired the funds to various individuals in Europe, keeping a portion for themselves.  No automobiles were ever delivered to the victims.

At the time of the defendants’ arrest in October 2010, investigators seized several fraudulent passports, bank slips, Western Union money transfer receipts, and slips of paper containing the names of customers, makes of cars such as an Audi A8 and Jaguar XK, and the purported sale prices.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on July 28, 2011, and face maximum sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release and a $500,000 fine for money laundering; and up to 10 years in federal prison followed by up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for possession of false passports.

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