Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The money laundering statute, 18 U.S.C.S. § 1956, among other things, makes it criminal for anyone, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, to conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity: (A) with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity; or (B) knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity. § 1956(a)(1).
Elena Corchado Peralta’s ("Corchado") husband was involved in drug trafficking, but Corchado contended that she was unaware of his unlawful activities or that the substantial purchases and deposits she made involved drug proceeds, even though their reported income was substantially less than the amounts with which appellant dealt. Corchado also argued that she did not read a bank loan application which contained false information inserted by her husband. Corchado and two associates, Basilio Rivera Rodriguez ("Rivera") and Oscar Trinidad Rodriguez ("Trinidad") were indicted and tried together on one count of conspiring with Colon to launder money. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(B) and (h). Corchado was also indicted on one count of bank fraud. 18 U.S.C. § 1344 (2000). All three defendants were convicted on the charges against them. They appealed.
Was Corchado properly convicted for conspiracy to commit money laundering?
The appellate court first held that, while the discrepancy between legitimate income and the amounts of money involved in transactions by Corchado permitted the inference that Corchado knew that the money were proceeds from some type of illegal activity, there was no showing of intent to disguise or conceal the proceeds as required to support the money laundering offense. Corchado’s purchases of luxury goods and large regular deposits in a bank account did not raise any inference of concealment or disguise, even if Corchado believed the money was proceeds from criminal activity. However, the patently false information in a prominent block of the short loan application readily permitted the inference that Corchado was aware of the misrepresentations.