KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A Lawrence contractor and five other people have been charged with money laundering, bank fraud and harboring undocumented workers, said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. A federal indictment unsealed today alleges they were part of a scheme to convert more than $13 million in payroll checks into cash to pay crews of undocumented workers installing drywall in the Kansas City metro area.
“The indictment alleges the money flowed through an illegal pipeline,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “At one end were contractors who wanted cheap labor. At the other end were undocumented workers who needed a job.”
Charged in the case are:
The indictment alleges the scheme revolved around another man – Jose R. Torres, 51 – who was charged and convicted in a separate case. Torres pleaded guilty to one count of harboring undocumented workers and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. He is awaiting sentencing.
The indictment alleges Gallegos and Stubbs first explained to Torres how the scheme would work and how he could make money by becoming a financial intermediary between drywall subcontractors and drywall construction crews made up primarily of undocumented workers. They told Torres that in order to pay undocumented workers someone had to serve as a financial conduit between the subcontractors and the workers. The subcontractors would contract directly with drywall crews but would use Torres as a financial intermediary.
The scheme involved Torres holding himself out as a drywall subcontractor while in fact his role was merely to receive checks from drywall construction crews, deposit the checks into his own accounts, withdraw cash from his accounts and pay the crew leaders, who in turn paid themselves and the members of the crews. Torres kept 5 percent as his fee.
To get the venture started, Torres borrowed $1,400 from Gallegos, who allowed him to work out of Gallego’s Boost Mobile store in Olathe. Drywall crews were paid weekly. The subcontractor made checks payable to “Jose R. Torres Drywall.” The checks were taken to Torres, usually at the Boost Mobile store. He would deposit the checks. Later, usually on Saturday mornings, he would withdraw cash from his accounts. He would put the cash into envelopes with the crew leaders’ names on them. The crew leaders would pick them up, usually at the Boost Mobile store.
Between October 2012 and June 2014, checks totaling about $13.2 million were deposited into Torres’ accounts at Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson are prosecuting.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.