Passaic County Man Admits Role in Illegal Money Transmitting Scheme

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NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, New Jersey man today admitted his role in an illegal money transmitting business, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig announced.

Willy Cruz-Bonilla, 24, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to a criminal information charging him with aiding and abetting an illegal money transmitting business. 

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From August 2016 through August 2017, Cruz-Bonilla accepted over $2.5 million in cash and purchased over 90 cashier’s checks at local bank branches in New Jersey and elsewhere.  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, all 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 greater. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 1, 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, DNCD) with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan M. Peck of the Criminal Division in Newark.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

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