A wide-ranging investigation into multi million-dollar fraud involving U.S. Treasury funds has resulted in the conviction of a Pennsylvania man and the indictment of a Baton Rouge man, U.S. Attorney Walt Green said in a news release.
Albelk Reyes Serrata, 26, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal government funds, and Carlos L. Linares, 55, of Baton Rouge, has been charged by a federal grand jury on failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.
Serrata and others participated in a scheme to fraudulently obtain about 370 U.S. Treasury checks, totaling about $2.2 million, which were cashed by an associate operating a money service business on Florida Boulevard, Green said.
After the checks were cashed, Serrata’s co-conspirator would keep some money for herself, withdraw the remainder in cash and then transfer the rest of the money to Serrata and others, Green said.
Linares owned and operated Latinos Supermarket, a separate business also on Florida Boulevard, Green said. He is accused of depositing more than 270 Treasury checks, totaling $1.6 million, most of which were fraudulently obtained and addressed to people out of state.
Green said Linares failed to follow requirements of a registered money service business and failed to prevent his store from being used to facilitate criminal activity and money laundering.
The crime Serrata pleaded guilty to, as well as the charge Linares faces, both carry significant incarceration, fines, restitution and supervised release following their imprisonment, Green said.
“These crimes put millions of taxpayer dollars at stake, make it more difficult for taxpayers to properly file their own taxes, and threaten the public’s confidence in the Internal Revenue Service,” Green said in the release.
The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is handling the investigation with assistance from the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Crosswell and Alan A. Stevens, who serves as deputy chief of the criminal division, are prosecuting the matter.