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Rhode Island Auto Dealer Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The president of a used auto dealership in Providence pled guilty on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Providence to money laundering. Domingo A. Lopez, 50, of Warwick, was arrested in November 2010 following a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation into the sale of vehicles from Espaillat Motors Inc.

Lopez’s guilty plea was announced by Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division of the DEA and U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

According to court records and information presented to the Court, the DEA investigation revealed that Lopez sold vehicles to a person who represented himself to be a drug dealer and who stated that the vehicles were to be used for trafficking drugs. Lopez facilitated the insertion of a hidden compartment in one of the vehicles – a hidden compartment that the buyer indicated he wanted to use to store drugs to assist in his narcotics dealing. In addition, Lopez 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.

Lopez, who has been detained since his arrest on November 9, 2010, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine when he is sentenced on December 16, 2011 by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Milind M. Shah and Sandra R. Hebert.

The matter was investigated by the DEA with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, IRS, ICE-HSI, Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police.


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