Owner Of Car Dealership Sentenced To 37 Months In Prison For Laundering Drug And Tax Fraud Proceeds
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven today sentenced Raymond L. Rodriguez, Jr. (52, Tampa) to three years and one month in federal prison for money laundering. As part of his sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $1,751,648, which are the proceeds traceable to the offense.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty on September 21, 2015.
According to court documents, Rodriguez owned and operated Rodriguez Auto Wholesale. Between 2009 and 2013, he sold 87 vehicles for a total of $1,751,648 to individuals who paid him with proceeds from the sale of illegal narcotics and/or stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) offenses. Rodriguez knew the funds had been illegally derived and agreed to disguise the large cash transactions from the government in a number of ways. First, he agreed to accept large cash payments for vehicles without filing Forms 8300 with the Internal Revenue Service, as required by law. He also agreed to place vehicles in the names of straw buyers so that law enforcement and other governmental entities would not be aware of the true owners of the cars or the illegal proceeds used to purchase them. Rodriguez further promised purchasers that he would keep a lien on certain vehicles, despite receiving payment in full, so that in the event those vehicles were seized by law enforcement authorities, Rodriguez could reclaim possession and return the seized cars to the purchasers or their family members.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.