Auto Dealers Charged with Money Laundering;
NOV 10 -- PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration and United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced that the president of Espaillat Motors Inc., a Providence used car dealership, and his son were arrested Tuesday by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and charged in U.S. District Court with money laundering. In addition, the government seized 17 vehicles from Espaillat Motors Inc., and will move in federal court for the forfeiture of the vehicles and the business’s assets. Tuesday’s arrests and seizures culminate a year-long investigation by the DEA and the DEA Taskforce.
Domingo A. Lopez, 49, and his son Derlyn Lopez, 22, of Warwick, made initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Providence Tuesday afternoon before Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond on Complaints charging each with two counts of money laundering. The defendants were ordered detained.
The investigation and arrests were announced by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to an Affidavit on file with the Court, it is alleged that, among other things, Domingo, who is President of Espaillat Motors Inc., and Derlyn, an employee of the dealership, sold vehicles to a person who represented himself to be a drug dealer; facilitated the insertion of a hidden compartment in one of the vehicles – a hidden compartment that the buyer indicated he wanted to assist in his narcotics dealing; listed the vehicle prices as under $10,000 when more than $10,000 in cash was paid for each car; and disguised or concealed the true identity of the buyer on paperwork associated with the sale of each vehicle.
Because the business, Espaillat Motors Inc., was allegedly involved in the money laundering, the business and all assets traceable to the business are subject to forfeiture. As indicated in the Affidavit and Seizure Warrant, the Government intends to seek the forfeiture of Espaillat Motors Inc.’s inventory of vehicles.
A Complaintis merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Money laundering is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Milind M. Shah and Sandra R. Hebert.
The matter was investigated by the DEA and members of the DEA Taskforce with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, IRS, ICE, Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police.