If there’s one thing the US government keeps extremely close tabs on, it’s money. That’s something one New Jersey senior is learning out the hard way. After cashing 20+ checks for amounts between $10k and nearly $52k without filing the proper paperwork, 83 year old Louis Sclafane could face up to 10 year in federal prison.
Following a lengthy investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigations Division, Mr. Sclafane—who was previously indicted on allegations of tampering with Atlantic City slot machines in 1987—was brought up on charges of failing to follow the proper filing procedure when cashing checks of $10,000 or more. The defendant plead guilty in the U.S. District Court of Newark, NJ, admitting to accusations that he cashed at least 20 checks, valued at a grand total of $381,595.
One might wonder how a the 83 year old native of Bayonne was able to cash so many checks without attracting immediate attention, but therein lies the felonious beauty of his crime. Mr. Sclafane was the sole proprietor of his own business – a check-cashing business, no less – on Broadway. Thus it’s easy enough to conclude that he was well aware of the Federal Bank Secrecy Act that required him to report each of those checks.
Currency Paperwork Requirements
The Federal Bank Secrecy Act (formally the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970) was established 45 years ago to help detect and prevent money laundering through banks, and “requires financial institutions to keep records of cash purchases of negotiable instruments, file reports of cash transactions exceeding $10,000 (daily aggregate amount), and to report suspicious activity that might signify money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities.”
A single report will require sensitive information like the identity and social security number or taxpayer identification number of the check’s owner and any representative by which the check is being cashed.
The checks in question were cashed by Mr. Sclafane between the dates of September 2010 and April 2012. They ranged in value from $10,399 to $51,758.
U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty accepted Mr. Sclafane’s guilty plea earlier this week, and has set the hearing for his sentencing for January 6, 2016. The defendant could face up to 10 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $500,000 for failing to file the proper paperwork. Furthermore, he will be forced to forfeit the amount of money represented by the value of all those checks, totaling $381,595.
Not his First Time Around the Block
This is not Mr. Sclafane’s first time in front of a judge, either. According to a report that appeared in The Associated Press nearly three decades ago, Louis Sclafane (55 at the time) was one of 15 men indicted on charges of tampering with slot machines in Atlantic City.
The indictments were unsealed in February 1987, alleging that the group had fraudulently won more than $500,000 between 1981 and 1982 across 10 slot machine jackpots. A total of 81 counts were issued against the men, hailing from the states of California, New Jersey and Nevada.