PERTH AMBOY, NJ–Score one for the Bay City's embattled police department.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey, its top law enforcement official credited the Perth Amboy Police Department (PAPD) with initiating an investigation that led to 24 arrests.
Carey said in a June 15 press release that, one day prior, his office had filed charges against five men and nineteen women from various Middlesex County municipalities, including a 26-year-old man Carey's office believes was the "leader" of "a large-scale international bank fraud ring that operated a million-dollar scheme to steal from banks and corporations."
Remarkably, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) said it all started with a "a routine traffic stop" in Perth Amboy.
"During the investigation, it was determined that the motorist was part of the bank fraud ring, which engaged in the intricate international financial scam," read the MCPO announcement.
The news comes on the heels of its former Police Chief being fired after his second arrest in a short span, and the release of videos depicting a violent arrest that led to a $850,000 taxpayer-funded civil settlement.
According to authorities, the fraud ring was led by a 26-year-old South Amboy resident named Carlos Alcantara, who allegedly "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."
"Under the scheme, money would be quickly withdrawn and/or wired overseas before the victims or the banks transmitting the wire transfers learned of the compromised and fraudulent wires," read the press release, which also indicated the fraudsters made use of "hacked e-mail accounts" in some cases.
New Brunswick Today obtained the release despite its recent removal from the MCPO media list, the second time the publication has been blacklisted because of its adversarial coverage.
In addition to the PAPD, the MCPO also credited several law enforcement agencies:
- U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Newark Division
- 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
- Carteret PD
- Edison PD
- Linden PD
- South Amboy PD
- South Plainfield PD
- Spotswood PD
- Woodbridge PD
Bails for the defendants ranged from $50,000 to $250,000.
The investigation further determined that Alcantara and his associates had fraudulently obtained over $1 million in U.S. currency and fraudulently wired more than $8 million from victims’ accounts.
The defendants have been charged with money laundering, conspiracy, and theft.
In addition to Alcantara, those charged have been identified as:
- Mohamed A. Hadgiev, age 38, of Carteret
- Edgar Lara-Mercedes, age 27, of Edison
- Jessica Smith, age 28, of Fords
- Kenneth McCarthy, age 43, of Newark
- Jamel Lark, age 38, of South Plainfield
- Cynthia Weaver, age 33, of South Plainfield
- Eddie Perry, age 46, of Spotswood
- Kim Gormley, age 41, of Spotswood
- Joseph Rawlins, age 46, of Woodbridge
- Steven Tunnell, age 58, of Woodbridge
- Glenn W. Yourstone Jr., age 42, of Woodbridge
- Quron Nickerson, age 28, of Perth Amboy
- Philip Maxwell, age 29, of Perth Amboy
- Erick Rodriguez, age 54, of Perth Amboy
- Christopher Martinez, age 26, of Perth Amboy
- Chaz Uriah Sullivan, age 25, of Perth Amboy
- William B. Wright Sr., age 49, of Perth Amboy
- Lina Wright-Cruz, age 32, of Perth Amboy
- Marshall Gordon, age 46, of Perth Amboy
- Aaron A. Jackson Sr., age 65, of Perth Amboy
- Reynaldo Ramirez, age 34, of Perth Amboy
- Akini Joseph, age 31, of Perth Amboy
- Karen Brimage, age 36, of Perth Amboy
The investigation is active and is continuing, according to the MCPO.