LAWFUEL – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael E. Yasofsky, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, announced the unsealing of four separate indictments charging the check cashing business “La Bamba” and 12 individuals with illegal practices in connection with the local money service industry. These indictments are the result of a nine-month undercover operation, called Operation Go with the Flow, conducted the IRS and its SAR Review Task Force. The defendants, including a Miami-based check cashing business named “La Bamba,” are charged with conspiracy and with substantive counts of causing or attempting to cause the filing of materially false Currency Transaction Reports (“CTRs”). The defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearance in federal court today at 1:30 p.m.
According to the Indictments, financial institutions, such as banks and check cashing stores like La Bamba, are required under the Bank Secrecy Act and its attendant regulations to file CTRs with the Treasury Department for any cash transaction, including cashing a check, in an amount over $10,000. Before concluding any transaction for which a CTR is required, the financial institution must verify and accurately record the identity, social security and/or tax identification number of the person or entity on whose behalf the transaction is conducted.
During the investigation, a cooperating witness, the former owner and operator of Cash Flow Financing, Inc. (“Cash Flow”), a check cashing business in Hialeah, presented himself as being willing to cash checks in substantial amounts and to assist in the filing of false CTRs. The defendants thereafter identified and recruited customers, mostly local construction companies and subcontractors, who were interested in cashing checks at Cash Flow and La Bamba through shell companies that the defendants owned or controlled. In this way, the construction companies participating in the scheme would cash checks payable to the shell companies, and get cash back from Cash Flow and La Bamba.
Thereafter, defendants at La Bamba would file CTRs with the Treasury Department falsely stating that it was, in fact, the shell company that had conducted the transaction, and not disclosing the construction company. This false statement concealed the true parties involved in the transaction and the true source of the funds. For this service, that is, for providing the shell companies and filing the false CTRs, La Bamba, its employees and recruiters earned substantial fees.
U.S. Attorney Acosta stated, “The conduct charged in today’s indictments is much more than a simple reporting violation. By hiding the true source of the more than $50 million, this conduct can help to facilitate criminal activities.”
Michael Yasofsky, Special Agent in Charge of IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division, stated “Money service businesses should heed today’s indictments as a warning that the laws aimed at preserving the integrity of our financial system will be strictly enforced. This investigation is continuing, and more charges are likely to follow.”
1. United States v. Juan Rene Caro, et al, 08-20044-CR-Lenard
Charged in this Indictment are defendants Juan Rene Caro, 41, Maytemar Corporation, d/b/a “La Bamba Check Cashing,” Alfredo Filomeno Gonzalez, 46, Jose Jorge Chaoui, 47, Oscar Alberto Valle, 25, and Meylin Maria Morales, 23. All charged with conspiracy, and with causing and attempting to cause the filing of false CTRs. The Indictment outlines a long-term scheme, beginning in August, 2005, to use shell companies to cash checks for construction companies, resulting in the filing of more than $37,500,000 in false CTRs. The Indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $37,500,000 and several properties, including several Fisher Island condominiums.
2. United States v. Nelson C. Flores, et al 08-20045-CR-Ungaro
Charged in this Indictment are defendants Nelson C. Flores, 35, Maria Del Carmen Martinez, 34, and Horacio Duarte, 43. All are charged with conspiracy, and Flores is also charged with the substantive offense of causing or attempting to cause the filing of false currency transaction reports. These defendants used shell companies San Construction and Lachos Construction to cause the filing of false CTRs, totaling more than $2,459.000.
3. United States v. Eduardo Antonio Olivar, et al 08-20052 -CR-SEITZ
This Indictment charges Eduardo Antonio Olivar, 36, William Jose Hernandez, 36, and Tomas Garcia with conspiracy. Olivar and Hernandez are further charged with the substantive offense of causing or attempting to cause the filing of false currency transaction reports. These defendants used shell companies Four by Four Plaster, Inc., and Raim Construction Group, Inc., to cause the filing of false CTRs, totaling more than $3 million.
4. United States v. Jose Luis Arroliga, 08-20053-CR-MORENO
This Indictment charges Jose Luis Arroliga, 38, with several counts of causing or attempting to cause the filing of false currency transaction reports through shell company WF Construction, totaling more than $406,000.
If convicted, the individual defendants face 5 years’ imprisonment on the conspiracy charge and 10 years’ imprisonment on each substantive count. The company, La Bamba, faces a $500,000 fine on each count.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Internal Revenue Service and its SAR Review Task Force, including the Miami Dade Police Department and the Sunrise Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Wilfredo Fernandez.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on .