Seven Individuals Plead Guilty to Multi-Million Dollar International Money Laundering Conspiracy
Seven individuals have pled guilty to participating in a multi-million dollar international money laundering conspiracy.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
On March 7, 2018, Geannis Gonzalez, 31, formerly of Peyton, Colorado, Alfredo Tovar, 36, of Miami Gardens, Robinson Castillo, 32, of Pembroke Pines, and Jamie Vives Castillo, 41, of Pembroke Pines, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. On March 15, 2018, Quiana Velasco, 35, of Miami, Jose Daniel Estrella, 38, of Hallandale, Pedro Reyes, 38, of Hialeah, pled guilty to the same offense. Each defendant faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment. Defendants Gonzalez, Tovar, Velasco, Estrella, Reyes, and Castillo will be sentenced on May 25, 2018, by the United States District Judge Ursula Ungaro. Defendant Vives Castillo will be sentenced on May 30, 2018.
According to stipulated facts filed in court, the defendants admitted to opening bank accounts established in the names of shell corporations to receive the proceeds of various fraudulent schemes, including romance frauds, email hacking schemes, and inheritance and lottery scams, that victimized individuals and corporations across the United States. The defendants further admitted that, after banks closed the bank accounts that the defendants had opened, often on suspicion that the accounts were being used for fraud or other illegal activity, the defendants would recruit other individuals to act as “money mules,” establishing additional shell corporations in the money mules’ names. The defendants would then instruct the money mules to open new bank accounts throughout South Florida in the names of the new shell corporations, and telling the mules to falsely represent to the banks that the shell corporations were legitimate businesses engaged in the import, export, or sale of various goods. Once these bank accounts received money wired from a fraud victim, the defendants would instruct the money mules to wire the money to other accounts overseas.
These stipulated facts further revealed that the defendants received repeated warnings that the funds coming into the shell corporation bank accounts were the proceeds from illegal activity. The defendants also admitted that these bank accounts received total amounts of illegal proceeds ranging from $3,381,110 to $7,177,442. The defendants would receive a small percentage of these funds as their commission. According to the allegations in the indictment in which the defendants were charged, the overall conspiracy, which was led by defendant Roda Taher, laundered approximately $94 million.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared M. Strauss and Michael G. Walleisa.