Black Market Money Remitter Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSE MORELY CHOCRON pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff to one count of money laundering. CHOCRON laundered more than $500,000 in funds that had been represented to him to be the proceeds of a scheme to bribe Brazilian political officials, using a network and bank accounts to which he had access by virtue of his operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Jose Chocron’s black-market banking was designed to facilitate tax evasion, and was used to facilitate what he thought was the bribery of a foreign official. Unbeknownst to Chocron, the FBI had identified his network and worked quickly to dismantle it. This Office will continue to ensure the integrity of the U.S. financial system by identifying and prosecuting shadow banking operations like Chocron’s.”
According to the Complaint, the Indictment, and other filings in this case:
Between May 2019 and October 2019, CHOCRON, working with his co-conspirators, utilized his network of contacts and bank accounts to launder funds that had been provided to him by individuals who – unbeknownst to CHOCRON – were working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”). Those individuals informed CHOCRON that the funds were the proceeds of bribes that had been paid to Brazilian public officials in order to obtain licenses and permits. On four occasions, CHOCRON accepted cash from individuals who were working for the FBI or arranged to have the cash delivered to his associates. He then arranged for the funds to be transferred to bank accounts specified by the FBI, minus a commission payment.
CHOCRON explained that he was able to receive large amounts of cash in the United States and arrange for those funds to be transferred to bank accounts because CHOCRON “ha[d] . . . people here that need cash. They will transfer to you, because they don’t want to pay taxes . . . What do I do? I give them the money and they make a transfer to me.” He also requested a higher commission for his services than initially offered, stating “Let’s be clear, that’s laundering money.”
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CHOCRON, 61, of Spain and Venezuela, pled guilty to one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. In connection with his guilty plea, CHOCRON also admitted that he operated an unlicensed money transmitting business, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1960.
CHOCRON is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rakoff on July 16, 2021, at 4:00 p.m.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding work of FBI New York’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force.
The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transitional Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew C. Adams, Benet J. Kearney, and Sarah Mortazavi are in charge of the case.
James Margolin, Nicholas Biase