Kenner Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Money Laundering
NEW ORLEANS – DUANE DUFRENE, age 55, a resident of Kenner, Louisiana, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering before U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche-Milazzo, announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
According to court documents, DUFRENE conspired with RYAN MULLEN, DILLON ARCENEAUX, LANCE VALLO, GRANT MENARD, and ZEB SARTIN to use several shell Louisiana corporations, that were devoid of assets, to defraud a Georgia based merchant cash company. MULLEN and DUFRENE helped establish ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN as the owners of the existing shell corporations. MULLEN and DUFRENE then created fake vendor accounts for the corporations, and MULLEN, along with another person, created falsified bank records for the companies. MULLEN then used an alias and represented himself to be a broker for the shell companies he helped create.
Through the aid of another broker, MULLEN supplied the victim merchant cash advance company with the fake vendor accounts and false bank records in order to obtain funding. The victim cash advance company approved the advances and began to electronically wire ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN millions of dollars in advances. ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN laundered a portion of the funds by paying MULLEN and DUFRENE a portion of the funds. ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN then closed their non-existent businesses before fully repaying the victim merchant cash advance company, resulting in overall losses to the victim of approximately $6.4 million.
DUFRENE is to be sentenced on November 29, 2023, and faces a maximum sentence of five years on the wire fraud conspiracy, and up to twenty years on the money laundering conspiracy. After imprisonment, the defendant faces up to three years of supervised release, and up to a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud count, and up to three years of supervised release, and up to a $500,000 fine on the money laundering count. Each count also requires DUFRENE to pay a mandatory special assessment fee of $100 per count.
U.S. Attorney Evans commended the special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their handling of the matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward Rivera of the Financial Crimes Unit and Andre Lagarde of the Public Integrity Unit.
Community Outreach Coordinator
U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
Updated July 27, 2023