Mocobizscene- A man from Union County has been sentenced to five years in prison after confessing to operating an illegal check cashing service that generated millions of dollars.
In a recent news release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Fernando Q. Martins, a 44-year-old resident of Union, has been sentenced for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Martins pleaded guilty to one count of this offense.
Martins confessed to running Community Check Cashing in Newark without a license from 2015 to 2019, along with several shell companies. The company would charge customers, mostly from the construction and building sectors, a 3% fee to cash their checks.
His customers would write a check to one of the businesses he had established as part of the scheme. Then, either he or one of his associates would go to a licensed check cashier in Neptune City to cash the checks. According to court documents, the cash would then be distributed to the customers, deducting the fee.
According to authorities, Martins admitted in his plea agreement that the cashed checks amounted to a staggering $250 million to $550 million. Officials have stated that when Martins was arrested in July 2019, he had over $700,000 in cash in his possession.
According to the complaint, authorities alleged that Martins’ customers were able to avoid reporting the money on their currency transaction reports and pay their employees off-the-books, thus circumventing payroll and income taxes.
According to officials, Martins and his businesses failed to register with the U.S. Department of Treasury as a money transmitter or report any currency transaction to the government. Martins has been ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and $765,185 in forfeiture as part of his sentence.
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