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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 14, 2016

Tampa Attorney Sentenced To Prison For Hiding Drug Proceeds

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday today sentenced Joe Manuel Gonzalez (66, Tampa) to 10 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for structuring financial transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements. The Court also ordered him to pay a $15,000 fine. Gonzalez pleaded guilty on August 24, 2016.

According to court documents, 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 DEA agent. The CS and the undercover agent posed as brothers seeking to launder 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 to avoid the currency reporting requirements.

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

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated November 14, 2016