Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has ordered M&T Bank to forfeit $560,000 in drug proceeds laundered through the bank on which the bank failed to file currency transaction reports.
The forfeiture was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; and Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.
"Financial institutions face penalties if they accept cash deposits without filing currency transaction reports,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “The reports allow law enforcement to trace cash deposits by criminals who try to avoid creating a paper trail."
According to the complaint filed in support of the forfeiture, Deanna Bailey was a member of a drug trafficking organization based in Maryland. Sabrina Fitts was the head teller at the Perry Hall branch of M&T Bank. On at least eight occasions between 2011 and 2013, Bailey came to M&T Bank and asked Fitts to convert the proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs from small denomination bills (i.e. $5, $10 and $20 bills) to $100 bills. The amounts involved in each transaction ranged from $20,000 to $100,000, with most transactions involving $50,000 or more. Bailey paid Fitts a one percent fee for each transaction for making the exchange without filing a currency transaction report.
The government filed a civil action on February 10, 2014 alleging that M&T Bank is required to forfeit $560,000 that was transferred to the bank by Bailey in exchange for $100 bills. The complaint alleged that the money was subject to forfeiture because M&T Bank failed to file currency transactions reports on bank transactions in amounts in excess of $10,000 as required by law. Fitts admitted that on each occasion she converted the bills without filing or causing anyone else at M&T Bank to file a currency transaction report.
Sabrina Nicole Fitts, age 29, of Baltimore, Maryland, was sentenced to a month in prison followed by eight months of home detention for failing to file currency transaction reports on suspected drug proceeds. Judge Bredar also ordered Fitts to perform 250 hours of community service and to forfeit $5,000 she was paid by Bailey for converting the drug proceeds. Deanna Bailey, age 33, of Baltimore, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for conspiring to commit money laundering. Judge Bredar also ordered Bailey to forfeit $500,000.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the DEA and Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Stefan D. Cassella, who prosecuted the case.