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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Operator Of Stroudsburg Business Charged Federally With Conspiring To Unlawfully Structure Financial Transactions

HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Criminal Information was filed today in U.S. District Court in Scranton, charging Mirela Desouza, age 45, of Bangor, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, with conspiring to violate federal currency transaction requirements for the purpose of sending the proceeds of illegal activities out of the United States.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Desouza allegedly conspired with others from January 2008 through December 2011 to use a Stroudsburg-based money transmitter service operated under the name of Tropic Express, Inc., to send money electronically to the Dominican Republic in varying amounts and using names of “nominee” senders and receivers of the funds, to fraudulently evade federal record keeping and reporting requirements.

The government charges include a claim of forfeiture of property involved in the offense including a bank account at M&T Bank in the name of Tropical Express, Inc. and a $25,000 money judgment.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations.

The government also filed a plea agreement with Desouza, which is subject to the approval of the court.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office, the alleged crime of structuring consists of conducting transactions in currency for the purpose of evading federal reporting requirements.  Banking institutions are required to file currency transaction reports (CTRs) with the Internal Revenue Service for each deposit, withdraw and/or exchange of currency, or a payment that involves currency of over specified amounts, in this case $3,000.  The law also prohibits evading or attempting to evade record keeping requirements.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law is 5 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $ 250,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

 

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Updated May 12, 2015