Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 18, 2022
Bronx Man Admits Identity Fraud and Laundering over $12 Million in Illegal Drug Proceeds
NEWARK, N.J. – A Bronx, New York, man today admitted his role in a large international money laundering conspiracy and to using a stolen identity in furtherance of the scheme, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Roberto Mendoza-Arias, 51, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of identity fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From May 2019 through March 2020, Mendoza and others laundered over $12.3 million from illegal activity. Mendoza accepted large amounts of cash drug proceeds from conspirators and laundered it by purchasing over 650 cashier’s checks at local bank branches in New Jersey and New York. The checks were made payable to individuals and companies specified by the leaders of the money laundering organization.
In July 2018, Mendoza obtained a fraudulent Pennsylvania driver’s license in someone else’s name. He used the fake ID to open multiple bank accounts and incorporate a business. Mendoza then used the bank accounts and the business to further the money laundering scheme.
The charge of money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount involved in the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of identify fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 24, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger 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, the New England Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle, and the Santo Domingo Country Office, under the supervision of Special Agent in Charge Renita D. Foster; 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; the New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, under the direction of Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan; and the Direccion Nacional de Control de Drogas (the Dominican Republic National Drug Directorate) with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan M. Peck of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit in Newark.
This case 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.