The managers of a San Diego gold exchange pleaded guilty Friday to federal money laundering charges.
Richard M. Owen, 49, and Jeffrey Morrow, 44, both of San Diego, also agreed to forfeit about $2 million in assets they acquired by laundering money through Global Gold Exchange, LLC. The business also faces charges in the case, federal prosecutors said.
A multi-year investigation detected “millions of dollars in suspicious transactions” through Global Gold Exchange’s office and bank accounts.
The defendants’ plea agreement states that they laundered money from a number of illicit sources and fraudulently documented the activity as gold transactions.
Their money laundering activities included transactions with a “local cartel out of Mexico.” They directed clients to lie to law enforcement and tax officials, as well as advised clients to mail packages filled with heavy substances to mimic the weight of gold.
“Global Gold Exchange and its managers Jeffrey Morrow and Richard M. Owen accepted money from all sources regardless of lawfulness,” Nichole Cooper of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said. “They then subverted conventional financial institution systems by using fraudulent invoices, directing clients to mislead law enforcement.”
In addition the money laundering counts, Global Gold Exchange entered a guilty plea to mail fraud, while Owen pleaded to unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition.