Saturday, May 15, 2021

Newark Man pleads guilty for role in $23 million money-laundering scheme

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A Newark man admitted to participating in a large international money laundering conspiracy and using a stolen identity to advance the scheme, authorities said Thursday.

Edwin Deleon-Batista, 37, pleaded guilty by video conference before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden to his role in a $23 million money-laundering scheme and identity fraud, acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig announced. The Newark man was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of identity fraud.

From March 2018 through October 2019, Deleon-Batista laundered more than $23 million in cash drug proceeds in connection to a money-laundering organization with close ties to drug trafficking organizations in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere, according to court documents.

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Deleon picked up large amounts of cash from drug proceeds in New Jersey, New York and Florida, and laundered it by purchasing cashier’s checks at local bank branches, then made payable to individuals and companies specified by the leaders of the laundering organization, according to the statement.

Authorities reported that by converting the drug proceeds to cashier’s checks, he tried to hide the source of the illegal cash and avoid scrutiny by law enforcement and banks.

Deleon-Batista was previously arrested on federal money laundering charges in New York in April 2019 and soon after his arrest, he began using a stolen identity and obtained a fraudulent Florida driver’s license to carry out the scheme, according to the statement.

“He used the fraudulent license to open several bank accounts, which he then used to convert millions of dollars more in cash drug proceeds into cashier’s checks at bank branches in New Jersey, New York, and Florida over a five-month period,” the statement said.

The charge of money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the amount involved in the offense. The charge of identity fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum $250,000 fine.

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Deleon-Batista’s sentencing is scheduled for June 22.

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