Newark man admits role in identity fraud, money laundering scheme

NEWARK, NJ — A Newark man admitted his role in a large international money laundering conspiracy and to using a stolen identity in furtherance of the scheme, acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig announced Feb. 18.

Edwin Deleon-Batista, 37, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden to an 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 March 2018 through October 2019, Deleon-Batista laundered more than $23 million in cash drug proceeds on behalf of a money-laundering organization with close ties to drug-trafficking organizations in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. Deleon-Batista picked up large amounts of cash drug proceeds in New Jersey, New York and Florida and laundered it by purchasing cashier’s checks at local bank branches. The checks were made payable to individuals and companies specified by the leaders of the money-laundering organization. By converting the drug proceeds to cashier’s checks, Deleon-Batista tried to hide the source of the illegal cash and avoid scrutiny by law enforcement and banks.

Deleon-Batista was previously arrested on federal money laundering charges in New York in April 2019. Soon after his arrest, Deleon-Batista began using a stolen identity and obtained a fraudulent Florida driver’s license to continue the money-laundering scheme. He used the fraudulent license to open several bank accounts, which he then used to convert millions of dollars more in cash drug proceeds into cashier’s checks at bank branches in New Jersey, New York and Florida over a five-month period.

The charge of money-laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the amount involved in the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of identity fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 22.

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