Two Passaic County Men Plead Guilty to Illegal Money Transmitting Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division Susan A. Gibson and Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Rachael A. Honig announced two Passaic County men admitted their roles in an illegal money transmitting business.
Erickson Checo-Almonte, 31 of Passaic, New Jersey, and Jordano Abreu-Diaz, 24 of Clifton, New Jersey, separately pleaded guilty by videoconference on Oct. 25, 2021, before U.S. District Brian Martinotti to information charging them each with aiding and abetting an illegal money transmitting business.
From April 2017 through March 2019, Erickson Checo-Almonte accepted over $3.9 million in cash and purchased over 137 cashier’s checks at local bank branches in New Jersey and elsewhere. From November 2016 through August 2017, Abreu-Diaz accepted over $1 million in cash and purchased 39 cashier’s checks at banks in New Jersey and elsewhere. Both men admitted that the cash they used to purchase the checks was from illegal activity.
The investigation revealed that the cash was the proceeds of illegal drug distribution. The check purchases were part of a large-scale illegal money transmitting and money laundering scheme designed to hide the illegal source of the cash and transfer it from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic and Colombia while attempting to avoid scrutiny by law enforcement and U.S. banks.
The charge of aiding and abetting an illegal money transmitting business carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount involved in the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for March 2, 2022.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents and task force officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; special agents and task force officers of IRS - Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez; the Morristown, New Jersey, police department, under the direction of Acting Police Chief Darnell Richardson; and the Direccion Nacional de Control de Drogas (the Dominican Republic National Drug Directorate, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas.