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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 4, 2015

Defendants Charged with Conspiracy to Engage in Wire Fraud, Identity Theft, and Misuse of Automated Export System

First Assistant United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced that defendant Mao Peng (age 25) of Kenosha, Wisconsin has been charged in a three-count criminal information with conspiring to engage in wire fraud, identity theft, and misuse of the United States’ Automated Export System to further criminal activity.  Mr. Peng has also entered into a written plea agreement by which he has agreed to plead guilty to those charges.

According to the information and a plea agreement, Peng conspired to defraud the State of Wisconsin of state and local sales tax revenue in connection with the purchase of luxury vehicles, which Peng and his company Longen Trading intended to export to China, by fraudulently using Native American straw buyers to make those purchases in a tax-exempt manner.  Specifically, Peng and Longen Trading used Native American straw buyers in connection with the purchase of approximately 154 luxury vehicle purchase transactions, having a total purchase price of approximately $9,132,106.94, and thereby evaded Longen Trading’s payment of a total of approximately $515,964.04 in state and local sales taxes that Longen Trading was legally obligated to pay in connection with the purchase of those vehicles.

According to the information and a plea agreement, Peng and Longen Trading also conspired to cause luxury vehicles to be purchased for export, via identity theft, that is, by using means of identification that belonged to a past or prospective straw buyer, without that person’s permission to purchase the vehicle using his or her identity.  Specifically, between on or about June 2012 and June 2014, Peng and Longen Trading conspired with others to purchase approximately 71 luxury vehicles, having a total purchase price of approximately $4,212,945.06, using a means of identification belonging to another person, without that person’s knowledge or permission.

According to the information and plea agreement, between approximately June 2012 and June 2014, Peng and Longen Trading also conspired with others to use the Department of Commerce’s Automated Export System (“AES”) to further these illegal activities, in violation of 13 U.S.C. § 305(a)(2).

Under the plea agreement, Mr. Peng has agreed to plead to all three counts of the information, to join the government in recommending that the sentencing court impose a sentence of 27 months’ imprisonment, to pay restitution of $515,964.04 to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and to stipulate to the civil forfeiture of approximately $1.2 million in funds seized from various bank accounts he controlled as well as 29 new luxury vehicles, including new Porsche, Mercedes Benz, and BMW vehicles.

In announcing the filing of the information and plea agreement, First Assistant United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad stated:  “As this case reflects, the United States Attorney’s Office and the United States Department of Justice are committed to aggressively combatting both identity theft and tax evasion.  We are also committed to taking the profit out of crime and to obtaining just financial outcomes in our criminal cases through the judicious use of both asset forfeiture and restitution remedies.”

Haanstad commended the investigative work that the United States Secret Service and United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry & Security, Office of Export Enforcement conducted in this matter, along with the investigative assistance provided by the following state and local law enforcement agencies:  the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Investigations, the Milwaukee Police Department, the Oneida Police Department, the Menomonee Police Department, the Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department, the Kenosha Police Department, the Wauwatosa Police Department, the Waukesha Police Department, the Glendale Police Department, the Green Bay Police Department, the Milwaukee Secret Service Financial Crimes Task Force, and the Native American Drug and Gun Initiative Task Force.

“The quality and overall success of this investigation is a direct reflection of the contributing agencies’ efforts, resources, and teamwork,” stated a spokesperson for the United States Secret Service’s Milwaukee Office.

"OEE will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to identify and disrupt criminal export activity," stated David R. Nardella, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry & Security, Office of Export Enforcement, Chicago Field Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott Campbell.

An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Updated June 4, 2015