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Press Release

Store Owner Who Cashed Fraudulent Checks Sentenced to Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that ASAFAK B. BHURA, 51, of Manchester, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 10 months of imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release, for attempting to obstruct federal tax laws.  Judge Bryant also ordered BHURA to pay a $30,000 fine.


According to court documents and statements made in court, BHURA owned and operated Nafisa, LLC, and later BAB Enterprise, LLC, a convenience store located in Middletown.  The store was registered with the U.S. Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as a money service business that sold money wire services and money orders to the public for fees.  The store was never licensed by the State of Connecticut to be a check cashier, which would permit the store to cash checks for a fee greater than 50 cents per check.


In April 2010, in response to an Internal Revenue Service Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) Compliance Audit, BHURA adopted an anti-money laundering (“AML”) program and check cashing policies and procedures for his store.  The procedures listed the acceptable forms of identification of those seeking to cash a check and required the collection and verification of the customer’s information, including addresses, home telephone number and place of employment, along with a copy or scan of the cashed checks.


From March 2012 to June 2012, BHURA accepted and cashed 126 U.S. Treasury tax refund checks totaling $787,187.17 for an individual.   BHURA did not properly identify the individual and the checks were not made payable to that individual.  In addition, he deposited the checks into his personal bank accounts rather than the store’s business operating accounts.


BHURA purposefully did not comply with his store’s AML program and check cashing policies and procedures.  Based on prior IRS BSA Compliance examinations of the store, BHURA knew the IRS BSA Compliance auditor reviewing the store’s money service business activities and business bank accounts would detect the cashed U.S. Treasury checks if they were deposited into the store’s business accounts.


The federal tax refund checks BHURA cashed were payable to payees residing in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.  The investigation revealed that the checks were federal tax refund checks that others fraudulently obtained through the filing of federal income tax returns containing stolen or fraudulently obtained personal identifying information.


For his services, BHURA received and kept a five percent fee for cashing the 126 checks, which amounted to $39,359.  BHURA has paid restitution in that amount to the IRS. 


On May 10, 2017, BHURA pleaded guilty to attempting to interfere with the administration of Internal Revenue laws.


BHURA, who is released on a $50,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison on December 27, 2017.


This matter was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter S. Jongbloed.

Updated November 2, 2017