Two Sioux Falls Men Sentenced to Nearly 12 Years and Four Years, Respectively, in Federal Prison for Roles in Fraud and Money Laundering Schemes
SIOUX FALLS - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier has sentenced a Latvian woman convicted of Engaging in Monetary Transactions in Property Derived from Specified Unlawful Activity. The sentencing took place on December 19, 2022.
At the time of her sentencing hearing, Lubova Burkute, 40, had served approximately one year in custody following her extradition from Norway. She was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay $11,835,573 in restitution and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
Burkute was indicted for Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments by a federal grand jury in June of 2021. She pleaded guilty on September 23, 2022.
According to court documents, in approximately 2015 and continuing until 2021, Burkute conspired and agreed with others to knowingly conduct financial transactions affecting interstate and foreign commerce. Specifically, Burkute and her co-conspirators engaged in depositing, transferring, wiring, and withdrawing U.S. Currency, foreign currency, and funds at financial institutions, which involved the proceeds of specified unlawful activity – wire fraud. Burkute and her co-conspirators knew that the transactions were designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of the fraud scheme. While conducting and attempting to conduct such financial transactions, it is alleged that Burkute knew that the property involved in the financial transactions represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity.
While Burkute was a minimal participant in the conduct giving rise to her conviction, her co-conspirators, including Nathan Peachey and John Rick Winer, were two of the primary perpetrators of the fraud scheme and money laundering activities. As to that conduct, Peachey and Winer, among others, informed investors that the monies provided to one or more of the co-conspirators would be used for charitable or humanitarian projects, oftentimes using religion or sovereign-citizen ideologies to entice and induce victims into investing money in the scheme. They also made promises that there would be a return on investments. Peachey and Winer informed investors that the monies provided to one or more of the co-conspirators would not be expended on personal expenses. Investor money was not used for charitable or for humanitarian projects, and investors never received a return on investments relating to the monies provided to Peachey, Winer, or their co-conspirators. The purpose of the conspiracy was to enrich the co-conspirators, all of whom amassed nearly $13 million, and then spent the fraud proceeds on a luxury residence located in a suburb of Oslo, Norway, renovation costs on the house, a Mercedes Benz, nearly $4 million in silver, travel, and personal expenses. This fraud scheme impacted victims from around the United States, including South Dakota, Minnesota, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
Peachey and Winer were convicted for their roles in fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice conspiracies. Peachey and Winer were sentenced to 300 months and 262 months in federal prison, respectively. Each was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release, pay nearly $11 million in restitution, and to forfeit a residence in Norway, a luxury vehicle, and approximately $4 million in silver coins.
This case was investigated by the following agencies:
- IRS Criminal Investigation;
- ØKOKRIM, the Norwegian National Authority for Prosecution and Investigation of Economic and Environmental Crime, Oslo, Norway;
- Oslo, Norway, Police Department;
- Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs; and
- South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri prosecuted the case.
Burkute was released after the sentencing hearing. Burkute resided in and operated from Norway, among other places, and she is a citizen of Latvia, where she was ordered to immediately self-deport.