For Immediate Release
Tampa Auto Dealer Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Conspiracy
Tampa, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Raymond Rodriguez (52, Tampa) yesterday pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, Rodriguez and his wife owned and operated Rodriguez Auto Wholesale in Tampa. Between 2009 and the end of 2012, Raymond Rodriguez, acting alone and with others, knowingly sold vehicles to individuals who had paid with proceeds from illegal narcotics sales and/or stolen identity refund fraud. Rodriguez, who knew that the funds had been obtained illegally, agreed to disguise the large cash transactions from the government in a number of ways. First, he agreed to accept large cash payments for vehicles without filing Form 8300 with the Internal Revenue Service, as required by law. He also agreed to place vehicles in the names of straw buyers. By doing this, law enforcement and other government agencies would not be aware of the true owners of the cars or the illegal proceeds used to purchase them. Rodriguez also promised purchasers that he would keep a lien on certain vehicles, despite receiving payment in full, so that if those vehicles were seized by law enforcement authorities, he could reclaim the vehicles and return them to the purchaser and/or their family members.
In total, between 2009 and 2013, Rodriguez and his co-conspirators laundered at least $1,751,648 in illegal drug and SIRF proceeds through Rodriguez Auto Wholesale, via the sale of approximately 87 vehicles.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.
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