Baltimore, Maryland – Anthony Jean-Claude, age 40, of Odenton, Maryland pleaded guilty today to laundering over $1.5 million, in connecting with a scheme to steal waste vegetable oil.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to the plea agreement, waste collection businesses contract with local restaurants to collect waste vegetable oil (WVO), which is used to make bio-diesel fuel or processed as an additive for animal feed. Waste collection businesses place recycling containers behind the restaurants with which they have contracts. When the containers are full, the businesses collect the WVO using a vacuum truck.
Jean-Claude admits that from May through October 2010, he and a friend stole WVO from restaurants in Maryland and Virginia using a flatbed tow truck owned by his friend, a tank and a mechanical pump. Jean-Claude and his friend stored the stolen oil at a warehouse near Waterview Avenue in Baltimore County, then sold the oil to out-of-state oil companies.
At the end of October, Jean-Claude’s friend developed a legitimate WVO collection company - Waste Not Incorporated - purchased a vacuum truck, hired salesmen to assist him, and eventually obtained 650 contracts to collect WVO from restaurants and other eateries. From June through October, 2011, Jean-Claude’s friend collected the WVO pursuant to the contracts and sold the WVO to Jean-Claude.
According to his plea agreement, in May 2011, Jean-Claude used a straw purchaser to buy a truck, which was titled the name of Waste Not and used to steal WVO from restaurants for which Waste Not did not have a collection contract. The driver of that truck was caught stealing WVO in July 2011. In late 2011, Jean-Claude met R.F. during a home renovation project at Jean-Claude’s home. Jean-Claude requested that R.F. lease a large warehouse facility to collect, process and sell WVO. The owner of Waste Not took both his legitimate WVO and the stolen WVO to the facility, located at 1701 Leland Avenue in Middle River. Jean-Claude then sold the WVO to fuel companies in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The proceeds of these transactions were directed back to Jean-Claude through an account in in the name of Rafxcel Services, to which both R.F. and Jean-Claude had signature authority.
Jean-Claude subsequently used the straw purchaser to buy another truck in October 2011, which a conspirator used to steal WVO from 20 locations in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The conspirator then took the stolen WVO to the Leland Avenue facility. From January 5, 2012 through October 1, 2012, Rafxcel received approximately $1,586,747, for selling WVO to oil companies in Maryland, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
R.M. was the operations manager at the Leland Avenue facility. R.M. received checks from Jean-Claude in the name of R.M.’s wife, which were drawn on the Rafxcel business account. Jean-Claude directed R.M. to cash the checks, use a portion of the cash for the operations of the Leland Avenue facility, and give the remainder of the cash back to Jean-Claude. Jean-Claude knew that this money was the proceeds of the illegal scheme to sell stolen WVO.
Jean-Claude faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for money laundering. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has scheduled sentencing for June 10, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the IRS-Criminal Investigation and Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory R. Bockin, who is prosecuting the case.