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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tampa Attorney Pleads Guilty To Structuring

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Joe Manuel Gonzalez (66, Tampa) today pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

According to the plea agreement, Gonzalez, an attorney with his own law practice in Tampa specializing in financial and tax matters, established a fictitious trust and bank account for a confidential source (CS) and undercover agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.  The CS and the undercover agent posed as brothers seeking to launder drug proceeds from their marijuana grow house operations. The “brothers” told Gonzalez that they made approximately $30,000-$50,000 per month from their marijuana operation and needed somewhere safe to put their money. Gonzalez advised the “brothers” how to set up and make deposits into bank accounts to avoid detection by law enforcement. Gonzalez established a bank account for the “brothers” in the name of a fictitious trust and made the initial deposits into the bank account with what Gonzalez understood to be proceeds from the marijuana business. On two occasions, Gonzalez structured the cash provided to him by the undercover agent, breaking up the bank deposit into separate transactions under $10,000 to avoid the currency reporting requirements and to avoid detection by law enforcement.  

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josephine W. Thomas.

Financial Fraud
Updated August 24, 2016