A 56-year-old Baton Rouge businessman was found guilty Friday of defrauding the federal government of more than $1.6 million in a fraudulent U.S. Treasury check scheme.
Carlos L. Linares, owner of Latinos Supermarket on Florida Boulevard, became the third person to be convicted in what federal authorities dubbed “Operation Checkmate,” a criminal probe into various Baton Rouge check-cashing businesses that cashed nearly $4 million in illegally obtained Treasury checks.
A Baton Rouge federal jury convicted Linares of theft of government funds, failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and obstruction of a federal proceeding. The latter charge accused him of attempting to obstruct Internal Revenue Service efforts to determine whether he was following the law.
Linares, who was taken into custody following his conviction, will be sentenced May 19 by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson.
Linares, who cashed checks for a fee, cashed more than 250 Treasury checks with out-of-state addresses worth more than $1.6 million from March 2012 through May 2013, U.S. Attorney Walt Green said Friday.
The checks had been obtained through fraud and misused other people’s identities, which Linares was aware of, Green stated.
Albelk Reyes Serrata, 26, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Anyelina Reyes, 36, of Baton Rouge, also have been convicted as a result of the federal investigation. Serrata was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution and forfeit another $220,000.
Reyes, who operated A&R Elite Team on Florida Boulevard and aided the cashing of roughly 370 fraudulently obtained Treasury checks, was ordered to serve six months in prison and pay $2.2 million in restitution. She also must forfeit the proceeds of her scheme.