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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Monday, May 2, 2016

ACPD Sergeant Admits Structuring And Making False Statements To FBI

CAMDEN, N.J. – A sergeant with the Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD) today admitted structuring financial transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements and lying to federal agents, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. 

Kiyia M. Harris, 39, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle in Camden federal court to an information charging her with one count of structuring and one count of making false statements to FBI agents during two interviews in December 2014.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The charges concern Harris’ concealment of financial transactions conducted on behalf of her then-paramour, Donell Williams, who pleaded guilty on Jan. 27, 2016, before Judge Rodriguez to conspiracy to distribute cocaine from March 2012 to June 12, 2013. He also pleaded guilty to five counts of violating the terms of his supervised release from a 2010 federal drug conviction.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

While working as an ACPD officer, Harris was engaged in a personal relationship with  Williams, who was on federal probation. In June 2012, Harris purchased a 1969 Camaro for Williams in her name and structured the payments for the car in such a manner as to avoid the filing of a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) by the car dealership and also to obscure Williams’ involvement in the purchase.

Harris caused $17,825 to be deposited in amounts less than $10,000. On June 8, 2012, Harris paid $9,999 to the dealership.  Harris paid the balance due for the Camaro by check dated June 11, 2012, which was drawn on one of her personal accounts at TD Bank. Some of the monies Harris used to pay for the car were deposited into that same TD bank account on two separate dates at two different TD Bank branches.

CTR forms require disclosure of the identity of the individual who conducted the transaction and the individual or organization for whom the transaction was completed. Many individuals involved in illegal activities are aware of these reporting requirements and take active steps to cause financial institutions, including car dealerships, not to file CTRs in order to avoid detection of the movement of large amounts of U.S. currency or currency obtained from illegal activities, including drug trafficking, a practice referred to as “structuring.” This typically involves making multiple cash payments, deposits or withdrawals in amounts of $10,000 or less on the same day or consecutive days in order to avoid CTR filings.

During two interviews with special agents from the FBI, Harris made false statements to agents: she falsely told FBI agents that she had never deposited cash into her bank accounts when, in actuality, from Jan. 8, 2007, through Nov. 26, 2014, Harris deposited more than $120,000 into her accounts. Harris repeatedly denied having engaged in financial transactions with Williams, when she in fact had helped him with the purchase of the 1969 Camaro, as well as paying a $6,500 deposit on a 2012 Harley Davidson motorcycle.  

The counts to which Harris pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 10, 2016. According to the Atlantic City Police Department, Harris has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the prosecution. Williams is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 7, 2016.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Division, Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; the DEA’s New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski; the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor James P. McClain; and the Atlantic City Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Henry White, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. 

He also thanked the N.J. State Police; the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-Homeland Security Investigation (HSI); Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Ventnor, Northfield and Millville police departments for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana V. Carrig of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden. 

Defense counsel: James J. Leonard Jr. Esq. of Atlantic City, New Jersey

Updated June 13, 2016