Second Defendant Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Money Laundering
NEW ORLEANS – LANCE M. VALLO, age 38 and a resident of Gueydan, 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.
As according to court documents, VALLO conspired with RYAN MULLEN, DUANE DUFRENE, DILLON ARCENEAUX, GRANT MENARD, and ZEB SARTIN to use a number of shell Louisiana companies with no assets to defraud a merchant cash company based in Georgia. MULLEN and DUFRENE helped establish ARCENEAUX, VALLO, MENARD, and SARTIN as the owners of existing corporations. MULLEN and DUFRENE then created fake vendor accounts for the corporations, and MULLEN, with the aid of another person, created false bank records for the companies. Thereafter, VALLO used an alias to present himself as a broker for the 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 percentages 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 of approximately $6.4 million. VALLO alone, was responsible for approximately $876,000 in losses to the victim.
VALLO is set for sentencing on July 19, 2023 and faces a maximum sentence of five years on the wire fraud conspiracy, and a maximum sentence of 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 carries a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.
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 J. Rivera and Andre Lagarde of the Financial Crimes Unit.
Community Outreach Coordinator
U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana