ACPD Sergeant Charged With Structuring And Making False Statements To The FBI
CAMDEN, N.J. – An Atlantic City Police Department Sergeant was arrested by special agents of the FBI this morning for allegedly structuring financial transactions to avoid the filing of currency transaction reports and making false statements to federal agents, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Kiyia M. Harris, 39, of Egg Harbor Township, is charged by complaint with one count of structuring and one count of making false statements to FBI agents during two interviews in December 2014. She is scheduled to make her initial appearance later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Harris was engaged in a personal relationship with a convicted drug dealer, D.W., who was on federal probation. In June 2012, Harris purchased a 1969 Camaro for D.W. 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 D.W.’s involvement in the purchase. Harris caused $17,825 in cash to be deposited in amounts less than $10,000. On June 8, 2012, Harris paid $9,999 to the dealership. By check dated June 11, 2012, which was drawn on one of her personal accounts at TD Bank, Harris paid the balance due on the Camaro.
Some of the monies Harris used to pay for the Camaro were deposited into that same TD bank account on two separate dates at two different TD Bank branches. On June 11, 2012, Harris deposited at the TD Bank branch in Atlantic City $9,926: $3,926 in cash and a $6,000 check dated June 10, 2012 bearing the notation “loan for auto” from J.E., a friend of D.W. who loaned D.W. some of the monies to purchase the Camaro. The following day Harris deposited an additional $3,900 in cash into the same TD Bank account at the bank branch in English Creek, New Jersey.
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. These steps are referred to as “structuring” and involve 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.
Harris was interviewed by special agents from the FBI on two occasions in December 2014 about her relationship with D.W. and suspicious financial transactions. Harris made false statements to agents which were material to an ongoing federal drug trafficking and money laundering investigation. She falsely told FBI agents that she had never deposited cash into her bank accounts when, in actuality, from January 8, 2007 through November 26, 2014, Harris had deposited more than $120,000 in cash into her accounts. Harris repeatedly denied having engaged in financial transactions with D.W., when in actuality, Harris had conducted numerous transactions with D.W., including helping him with the purchase of the 1969 Camaro and also paying a $6,500 deposit on a 2012 Harley Davidson motorcycle for D.W. by a check drawn on one of Harris’ personal accounts at T.D. Bank.
Both charges carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
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 Richard M. Frankel; the DEA’s Newark 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 arrest.
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.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel:. James J. Leonard Jr. Esq. of Atlantic City