News and Press Releases

Florida Man Convicted of Money Laundering Conspiracy in Relation to Ethan Allen Insurance Scam

July 26, 2012

HOUSTON – Robert Steve Mills, 57, of Bonita Springs, Fla., has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz.

Mills admitted to conspiring to launder the proceeds of a fraud scheme that sold fake liability insurance policies through “benefit associations” operated from Texas called International Property Owners Association Ltd. and Global Property Owners Association Inc. and through a company domiciled in Pago Pago, American Samoa, called American Transport Insurance Corporation. The fake insurance was purchased by apartment complexes, condominium associations, bars, restaurants, trucks, taxi cabs, charter aircraft services and other businesses in the United States and Caribbean. One company that purchased the insurance was Shoreline Cruises Inc. which operated a 40-foot tour boat called the Ethan Allen on Lake George, N.Y. The tour boat operator discovered its insurance policy was fictitious after the Ethan Allen sank on Oct. 2, 2005, in a tragic accident that claimed the lives of 20 elderly tourists.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, who accepted the guilty plea today, has set sentencing for Oct. 19, 2012, at which time he faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison without parole as well as a fine of up to $250,000. He will also be ordered to pay resti and an order to pay full restitution to victims.

Mills has been in custody since Jan. 10, 2011, when a U.S. magistrate judge found he presented a serious risk of flight, having fled the United States in 2009 because of the government’s investigation.

Three others have also been convicted in this scheme. Christopher Purser pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while Edmund Benton and Malchus Irvin Boncamper pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money. Purser, Benton and Boncamper will each be sentenced by Judge Lake on Aug. 2, 2012.

The charges are the result of an intensive investigation conducted by the IRS-CI with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations and the Texas, New York and California Departments of Insurance. During this four-year investigation, the U.S. government also received extensive and valuable assistance from the governments of St. Kitts and Nevis and also St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Investigators also received valuable assistance from the governments of The Bahamas, Nicaragua, The Philippines and Australia.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John R. Lewis and Belinda Beek are prosecuting the case.




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