NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On October 5, a grand jury opted to indict 45 individuals and the same number of private companies in connection with an allegedly massive and intricate racket based in Middlesex County.
Carlos Alcantara, just 26 years old, is accused of being the head of the criminal organization that "fraudulently obtained more than $2 million in U.S. currency and fraudulently wired more than $15 million from victims’ accounts."
At 16 pages long, indictment #16-10-01566 was one of the lengthiest such documents filed with the criminal records department at the Middlesex County Courthouse in recent memory.
It also marked the second time in the history of the county that prosecutors charged anyone with violating racketeering laws meant to target so-called "organized" crime.
Perth Amboy, Edison, Woodbridge, Carteret, Sayreville, South Plainfield were cited as six municipalities in Middlesex County where the crimes occurred. The alleged kingpin, Alcantara, lives on John Street in South Amboy, according to court records.
But the criminal enterprise didn't stop at the county line, according to the indictment, which noted the defendants and others were worthy of being put to trial for a conspiracy that took place here, as well as in New York, Florida, Massachusetts, and "in the nations of China and Lebanon."
Some of the names of the companies involved appeared to be at least inspired by Chinese words or phrases.
The most recent MCPO statement said that Alcantara and many of his associates "created companies for the sole purpose of duping unwitting companies and individuals to wire significant sums of money to newly-established, but fraudulent corporate bank accounts."
According to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO):
The investigation showed that companies and individuals were targeted though e-mails purportedly sent by co-workers in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Florida
The e-mails would convey a sense of urgency and cite a previous invoice or on-going project to lend credibility to the scam.
These tactics were designed to persuade the recipients to act quickly and proceed with the transactions without question. As a result, the recipients were duped into losing amounts ranging from $50,000 to $450,000.
Originally characterized as a "bank fraud" case, officials say that the "intensive investigation" that took down the criminal network began with a "routine traffic stop" conducted by Perth Amboy police.
During the initial investigation, cops "determined that the motorist was part of the bank fraud ring." The MCPO has not yet indicated which defendant was the one who was initially pulled over, or if it was someone besides one of the people indicted.
Alleged kingpin Carlos Alcantara faces charges stemming from all but one of the twelve counts in the indictment, the result of Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Russell Curley's efforts, including:
According to court records, Curley's attempt to indict Alcantara on fraud was unsuccessful with the grand jury returning a "no bill."
An announcement issued to members of the press, which was obtained by New Brunswick Today despite all of our reporters being specifically excluded from the list of recipients, also included at least one contradiction.
While the subject line of the email sent to journalists containting the release read "wire fraud indictment of 88 people and corps," stating an inaccurate charge and a potentially inaccurate number of defendants, the the release itself indicates that Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey gave different statistics.
"Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said 47 people and 44 companies have been indicted in Middlesex County by a grand jury that charged them with participating in a large-scale international bank fraud ring that operated a multi-million-dollar scheme to steal from banks and corporations," began the release.
However that would make the total 91 "people and corps." New Brunswick Today counted a total of 90, 45 people and 45 business entities.
The business entities were indicted on the count of conspiracy, and a few on a third-degree charge of "failure to file business tax returns" while many of the individual defendants were indicted on a multitude of counts.
The grand jury returned indictments for Racketeering, Conspiracy, "Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity," "Theft by Deception," and "Receiving Stolen Property" against Alcantara, and the following additional defendants:
Information about the ages and hometowns of many of the defendants was not immediately available. Those listed above with that information had been previously arrested at the time of the MCPO's June 15 press release on the case.
Additionally, Alcantara, Hadgiev, Maxwell, Lark, Martinez, Wright, Rawlins, and Brimage were indicted on "Promoting Organized Street Crime," a first-degree charge.
Alcantara, Hadgiev, Maxwell, Yourstone, Rodriguez, Martinez, Sullivan, Wright, Wright-Cruz, Rawlins, Lark, Weaver, Brimage, Lara-Mercedes, Joseph, Perry, Gormley, Jackson, Tunnell, Smith, McCarthy, Ramirez, Haely-Martin, Sullivan, Delorenzo, Horn, Romero, Placencia, and Nickerson were indicted on charges of "Misconduct by a Corporate Official" as well as "Falsifying Records."
Alcantara, Lark, and Weaver were also charged with "failure to pay income taxes," while the list of other tax-related indictments may provide a clue about how the operation was run.
Alcantara, Hadgiev, Wright, Wright-Cruz, Rawlins, Brimage, Lara-Mercedes, Perry, Tunnell, McCarthy and Weaver were indicted on "Failure to File Business Tax Returns." All of those but Alcantara and Weaver were also indicted on "Failure to File Personal Tax Returns."
But on the business tax return charge, each of the defendants also saw an affiliated company indicted along with them.
In many cases, the company's name mirrored the initials of the individual defendant. Below is the list of companies indicted, with those facing tax return charges in bold.
The conspiracy count included all of the above invidividual defendants, as well as the following companies:
Businesses with asterisks were also indicted on a charge of failure to file business tax returns. The defendant next to the company is not necessarily affiliated with the company, though all were alleged to be part of the same conspiracy.
The MCPO credited the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Newark Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, the New Jersey Division of Taxation, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department, and municipal police departments in Carteret, Edison, Linden, Perth Amboy, South Amboy, South Plainfield, Spotswood, and Woodbridge with the case.
Anyone with information is asked to call U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Brad Greenberg or Special Agent in Charge Terence S. Opiola at (973) 776-5500.