A California man was sentenced to five years in federal prison for laundering money that two other men stole from central Wisconsin stores by posing as couriers and upper-level managers.
Sinval De Oliveira, 49, of Torrance, California, pleaded guilty to the offense of money laundering on March 4, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Wisconsin. Money laundering involves using financial transactions to conceal the true source, location or ownership of money obtained from other crimes.
Mario Amezcua-Cardenas and his brother, Moises Amezcua-Cardenas, deceived employees and picked up money from businesses throughout Wisconsin, including Walmart and The Store in communities that included Merrill, West Allis, Stevens Point, Wausau and Rib Mountain.
The brothers pretended to work for FedEx and told employees they needed to pay cash before they could deliver packages, according to the criminal complaint prosecutors filed in Marathon County. In some cases, they would pretend to be company management and instruct the employees to take the money from the business to pay for deliveries.
The known loss of the businesses is about $300,000.
On Dec. 2, 2020, De Oliveira flew to Milwaukee, where he picked up $242,980 from Mario and Moises Amezcua-Cardenas, who had stolen the money from the employees in November and December 2020, according to the news release. De Oliveira used a series of small ATM transactions at Milwaukee-area banks to deposit the cash into a bank account that was the property of a Florida business. The Florida business existed only to collect cash from illegal activities, according to the news release.
De Oliveira used the ATMs to make the deposits so he would not have to go into a bank and show identification, according to the news release. Once he deposited the money from Wisconsin businesses into the Florida account, the money was transferred to another bank account and then eventually was sent overseas. De Oliveira received a commission for the money he laundered.
U.S. District Judge William Conley found that De Oliveira’s Wisconsin transactions were part of a nationwide money laundering activity he had undertaken. De Oliveira laundered more than $5.1 million in illegal proceeds in the five months surrounding the Wisconsin transactions, according to the release.
Mario Amezcua-Cardenas was sentenced May 18 to 30 months in federal prison. His brother, Moises Amezcua-Cardenas, is scheduled to be sentenced June 17.
Conley decided De Oliveira deserved a longer sentence because he was on probation at the time of the money laundering and his actions were more serious than that of the brothers. Officials will likely deport De Oliveira back to his home country of Brazil after he finishes his sentence, according to the news release.
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