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Press Release

Rhode Island Man Arrested and Charged with Laundering More than $35 Million in Fraud Proceeds and Obstruction of Justice

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant allegedly used approximately 80 business bank accounts opened on behalf of 65 different shell companies to launder over $35 million in fraud proceeds

BOSTON – A Rhode Island man was arrested today and charged in federal court in Boston in connection with allegedly using his accounting and “virtual CFO” business to launder tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from internet fraud schemes.

Craig Clayton, 73, of Cranston, R.I., was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of obstruction of justice. He will appear in federal court in Boston today at 2 p.m. before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley. 

According to the charging documents, from 2019 to present, Clayton and others used his accounting and “virtual CFO” business, Rochart Consulting, as a front to launder the proceeds of internet fraud schemes. As part of the alleged conspiracy, Clayton founded dozens of shell companies in the United States and used those shell companies to open business bank accounts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, through which he laundered the criminal proceeds for his clients in exchange for fees. In total, since 2019, it is alleged that Clayton opened approximately 80 bank accounts purportedly on behalf of 65 different companies.  

It is alleged that, in communications with one of his Rochart business associates, Clayton stated that they were “money mules complicit in their [Rochart’s clients’] offenses.”  In encrypted communications with one of his clients, Clayton allegedly expressed concern that his phone was “tapped” by law enforcement and sought to obtain “dirt” on a victim who had reported the fraud scheme in order to “distract the police.” In recorded conversations with an undercover law enforcement agent posing as a potential Rochart client, Clayton allegedly stated that several of his clients were “fugitives from justice.” It is further alleged that, when banks and law enforcement began to investigate Rochart, Clayton falsely told investigators and bank personnel that his shell companies were legitimate businesses, among other things. After he became aware that a federal grand jury was investigating him, Clayton allegedly attempted to obstruct the ongoing investigation by making several false statements to federal agents during an interview.

In addition to today’s arrest, five seizure warrants were executed on Rochart bank accounts holding several hundred thousand dollars of alleged money laundering proceeds and a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle that Clayton purchased.
   
The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the proceeds, whichever is greater. The charge of obstruction of justice provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Matthew B. Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England; Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Boston Field Office; and Darnell Edwards, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division made the announcement today. Assistant United States Attorneys Ian J. Stearns of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit and Alexandra Amrhein of Rollins’ Asset Recovery Unit are prosecuting the case.  

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated February 23, 2023

Topic
Financial Fraud