Articles Posted in Money Laundering

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Two city officials in Jacksonville, Florida have been convicted of fraud and money laundering.

Federal court records show that jurors in Jacksonville found 39-year-old Katrina Brown and 57-year-old Reginald Brown guilty Wednesday on multiple charges. The former Jacksonville City Council members are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27. The government is seeking forfeiture of more than $750,000.

Prosecutors believe Katrina Brown obtained millions of dollars in U.S. Small Business Administration loans to expand her family’s barbecue business and create local jobs.

Investigators say she and Reginald Brown, who is not a relative, incorporated two businesses they used to submit fake invoices to their lender for services that the businesses had not provided.

An indictment says Reginald Brown deposited the reimbursement checks into the businesses’ bank accounts.

Money laundering is a white collar crime that occurs when an individual conceals funds earned from criminal activity within a legitimate financial channel. This is a serious federal offense and can result in stiff fines and jail time. These charges are serious and you can expect for federal prosecutors to pursue money laundering charges by working closely with federal law enforcement agencies and applying all of the laws at their disposal, including the Money Laundering Control Act, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, and the Bank Secrecy Act. Because of the fact that there are severe consequences associated with these charges, you need the legal assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you face money laundering charges or any similar allegations.

To prosecute an individual for money laundering, the court must prove that the accused individual illegally gained the funds in question and then deliberately tried to hide where the funds originated from. If the prosecution fails to prove these two crucial pieces of evidence, the money laundering charges must be dismissed. Our Florida Money Laundering Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand that criminal charges like these can be false or the circumstances can be easily misrepresented. That is why our attorneys will believe your story and work as your trusted legal advocates to prove your side of the case. We will do everything in our power to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced. 

Money laundering can only occur if the accused earned funds through criminal activity. With that said, there are numerous other criminal charges that often accompany money laundering charges in Florida, such as financial fraud, health care fraud, drug trafficking, drug distribution, and even prostitution. Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can address any and all criminal allegations made against you simultaneously, with the hopes of resolving these claims in a positive outcome.

Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys will launch an extensive investigation into your case and use every legal avenue available to mount a strong defense. There are defenses against money laundering and financial fraud crimes, such as:

  • Insufficient evidence: A prosecutor has the burden of proof to show that the accused intended to illegally hide the origin of allegedly laundered money and that the money was illegally obtained from a specific criminal activity. If the evidence fails to prove this, then it is entirely possible to have the case dismissed.
  • Absence of intent: If the prosecution cannot prove that the accused was aware that the allegedly laundered money was obtained illegally or that the accused intended to commit a crime, then the case could very well be dismissed due to the lack of intent.
  • Extreme duress or threats: If the accused can prove they were threatened and believed their life to be in danger if they did not participate in the money laundering crimes for which they are being charged, then it may be possible to have these criminal charges dropped or reduced. 

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Federal authorities have charged the pastor of a Texas megachurch and a Louisiana financial planner with defrauding elderly investors out of more than $1 million.

The two men were charged Friday with six counts of wire fraud and five counts of money laundering, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has also filed civil charges against the men for the alleged fraud, which occurred from 2013 to 2014.

One man, 64, is the senior pastor of a church Houston, which is described by the SEC as “one of the largest Protestant churches in the U.S.” The Louisian man, 55, is the manager of a financial group in Shreveport.

They’re accused of bilking 29 mostly elderly investors by selling them Chinese bonds issued before the revolution of 1949, saying that their historical value made them “worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars” according to a court document from the SEC.

The bonds have no investment value.

The SEC says the bonds have been in default since 1939, and the “current Chinese government refuses to recognize the debt.”

The funds collected were used to pay for personal expenses, including mortgage payments and luxury automobiles.

The DOJ says they allegedly defrauded the investors out of more than $1 million. The SEC places that figure higher, at $3.4 million.

The maximum sentence, if they’re convicted, is 20 years with a $1 million fine, as well as restitution and forfeiture, according to the DOJ.

The crime of money laundering uses financial transactions to conceal the origin of money obtained through illegal activity, to make it appear that the money came from a legitimate source. This is a very serious offense that can carry severe penalties, including steep fines and jail time if you are found guilty.

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The owner of an Altamonte Mall jewelry store has been arrested on federal charges after his business was raided Wednesday as part of a nationwide sweep on synthetic drugs.

According to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official, the jewelry store owner allegedly oversaw a large synthetic drug operation in Central Florida.

A federal grand jury indicted the man Wednesday, the same day DEA agents raided his Windermere-area home, Altamonte Springs jewelry store and a warehouse on John Young Parkway where he is accused of storing drug paraphernalia.

spiceAgents claim that the man was not selling drugs out of the jewelry store, but allegedly laundered the proceeds through the business.

The owner and his two alleged associated were each indicted on two federal drug charges.

If convicted, prosecutors would seek to forfeit more than $13 million from the suspects, as well as the jewelry store owner’s nearly 8,200-square-foot home on McKinnon Road.

This drug sweep is part of “Project Synergy,” a multi-agency operation targeting all levels of the global synthetic drug market.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the DEA said that the latest phase of “Project Synergy” ended with the arrests of more than 150 people nationwide. Around 200 search warrants were executed across 29 states.

Authorities claim they confiscated hundreds of thousands of individually packaged, ready-to-sell synthetic drugs, hundreds of kilograms of raw synthetic products and more than $20 million cash.

Synthetic drugs are often promoted as bath salts, herbal incense, jewelry cleaner or plant food and have increased in popularity.

Bath salts, which are illegal in Florida, are comprised of substances that are meant to mimic the effects of LSD, cocaine or methamphetamine. These drugs are marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave” and “Vanilla Sky.”

Synthetic marijuana, also referred to as “K2” or “Spice,” is also illegal in Florida and a growing concern among teens and young adults.

Synthetic marijuana and bath salts are considered controlled substances under both state and federal law, which means you are looking at prison time if you are charged with a drug crime involving either of these drugs. Even if you purchased these illegal substances at a smoke shop or head shop in the Altamonte Springs area, you can still be arrested and charged with a drug crime by local authorities or even the DEA.

Along with ecstasy, peyote and LSD, synthetic marijuana and bath salts are classified as schedule I controlled substances under federal law. Schedule I controlled substances are considered highly addictive and are believed to have no medical value. A conviction for a federal drug crime charge, including possession, manufacturing, distributing or trafficking will result in mandatory minimum sentencing, which usually means several years behind bars.

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A Gainesville doctor who was under federal investigation for years has been charged with 210 counts of health care fraud and money laundering.

The 57-year-old is accused of submitting fraudulent claims for needless tests, buying drugs from outside the U.S. that are not permitted for use here and providing those drugs to patients without their knowledge or consent, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The incidents allegedly occurred at a clinic she owned in Hawthorne from 1998 to 2009 and at a clinic on Northwest 16th Avenue in Gainesville from 2010 to 2013.

A female doctor consults her computer at the Bangkok Samitivej hospital.The woman surrendered on Tuesday and entered a plea of not guilty, according to reports. Her trial is scheduled for June 14.

The woman faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the health care fraud counts, up to three years for each of the Federal Drug Administration counts and up to 10 years on each of the money laundering counts.

Prosecutors allege that the woman submitted fraudulent claims to insurance companies for unnecessary medical procedures and services that were not actually performed or provided. According to reports, the claims were submitted to Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida.

The woman is accused of using some of the money from fraudulent claims to buy non-FDA-approved drugs and devices from outside the U.S., and submitted fraudulent claims for the dispensation of the drugs. Prosecutors also allege that she gave these drugs to patients without their knowledge.

Several state and federal agencies were involved in the investigation that led to the woman’s indictment.

The woman apparently closed her clinic in January 2013 because the investigation tarnished her reputation and wrecked her financially.

Reports indicate that the woman donated all of her medical equipment to a children’s hospital in Guatemala and has been volunteering for various local programs since her officer closed its doors.

If you are under investigation for federal health care fraud charges, you must take swift action and protect yourself by consulting with a federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you enlist legal help, the more likely your lawyer can put a stop to further investigations and possibly prevent charges from ever being filed.

Health care fraud charges often arise from the following:

A conviction for health care fraud carries extremely serious consequences. Not only do you face prison time and substantial fines, but you also risk losing everything you have worked so hard for, including any professional licenses or certifications that you hold as a medical provider.

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On Friday, a federal judge sentenced a south Florida doctor to more than six years in prison for her involvement in writing prescriptions for thousands of painkillers to addicts and drug dealers.

She was convicted of money laundering.

In July of 2013 a jury acquitted the 43-year-old woman and a 74-year-old man on charges that their roles in a chain of South Florida pain clinics led to the deaths of nine patients. They both faced up to life in prison and $2 million in fines.

pillsThe doctors and their defense team fought to prove that they were unaware of the conspiracy and were practicing medicine in line with state standards, which allow licensed physicians to dispense opioid pain pills without fear of punishment.

However, the jury convicted the pair of money laundering for their role in the “pill mill” scheme.

A U.S. District Judge sentenced the female doctor to 78 months in prison, while the man received 18 months. Both must also pay $10,000 in fines.

The woman’s lawyer says they plan to appeal the conviction.

The two doctors’ trial ended a four-year operation that targeted a slew of South Florida pain clinics that resulted in racketeering charges against 32 people in 2010.

The clinics owner is currently serving more than 17 years in prison and his brother and co-owner is serving more than 15. Both brothers testified on the government’s behalf.

At one point in time Florida had 90 of the top 100 oxycodone-purchasing physicians in the nation and 53 of the top 100 oxycodone-purchasing pharmacies.

The majority of these pills were pushed up the East Coast and sold at high markups in rural communities reaching from northern Alabama to western Pennsylvania. Interstate 95 was actually nicknamed Oxy Alley by dealers who frequently drove hundreds of miles to South Florida to buy cheap pain pills.

Florida law enforcement has been trying hard to crack down on the epidemic of prescription drug abuse within recent years. However, the restriction on painkillers has led to more heroin abuse.

Deaths from heroin rose 89 percent in Florida, from 62 in 2011 to 117 in 2012, according to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. According to reports, the heroin problem in south Florida has reached epidemic proportions.

Money laundering is a very serious federal crime that entails taking unlawfully obtained money and working to incorporate it so it appears to come from a lawful source. In general, money laundering involves a string of various financial transactions and multiple bank accounts. Today’s technology only makes these cases that much more complex, oftentimes complicating paper trails and making many Internet transactions harder to trace.

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A Jacksonville insurance salesman pleaded guilty to a 15-year scam in federal court Friday. Reports suggest that more than 50 people were bilked out of nearly $5 million.

Prosecutors claim that the investments the man promised large returns on were actually a Ponzi scheme that he used to buy commercial property, luxury cars and other items.

The 49-year-old man faces up to 80 years in prison, a fine of over $1 million as well as paying restitution to the victims involved in all 34 counts of the federal grand indictment.

Court records indicate that many of the victims were Duval County School Board employees who invested money from their Deferred Retirement Option Program, also known as DROP. There were also out of state investors in Georgia and North Carolina.

The man pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. All other charges were dropped.

The man remains free pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

ponzi scheme betch.jpgCourt records claim the scheme started in 1996 when the man set up a shell corporation, Abaco Securities International, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies, as a fake offshore investment company. The man was listed as the director of the company, but the only location was a post office. The man solicited his victims to invest their retirement savings in an investment product he described as ASI and promised interest rates sometimes exceeding 12 percent.

While some of the money was sent to a financial services company where the man had told his investors the retirement money would be invested, prosecutors claim the majority of the funds were deposited into SunTrust accounts set up by the man and then stolen by him. This apparently lasted until 2011.

A Ponzi scheme, also known as a business or investment pyramid, is defined as an investment plan where early investors are paid with the investments of later investors. While the plan may have started out legitimately, with everyone intention of delivering appropriate funds to investors, somewhere down the line the manager of the funds found that the investment strategy could not meet its goals, and in order to meet the demands of initial investors, used the money from later investors to pay early backers.

Due to the large sums of money involved in Ponzi schemes, these criminal cases are usually tried in federal court. They often include charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. When Ponzi schemes are uncovered and a person faces criminal charges in federal court, it is not surprising to find out that law enforcement has been investigating them for months, possibly for a year or more.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Vero Beach, Florida couple, Richard and Susan Olive, for allegedly raising millions of dollars selling investments for a purported charitable organization while defrauding senior citizens and exaggerating the amount of contributions actually made to charity.

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The SEC complaint, filed in the Southern District of Florida, charges the Olives with aiding and abetting violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws as well as violations of the securities and broker-dealer registration provisions of the federal securities laws.

The SEC complaint against the Olives lays out a scheme where the Olives were hired at We The People Inc., a Tallahassee-based non-profit organization that obtained $75 million from more than 400 investors in Florida, Colorado, and Texas by selling an investment product they described as a charitable gift annuity (CGA). Allegations are that the CGAs issued by We The People differed from legitimately-issued CGAs– namely that they were issued primarily to benefit the Olives and other third-party promoters and consultants. Only a small amount of the money raised was actually directed to charitable services. Meanwhile the Olives received more than $1.1 million in salary and commissions, and they also siphoned away investor funds for their personal use.

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