Passaic County man pleads guilty in illegal money transmitting scheme


Date: January 7, 2022


Newark, NJ — A Passaic County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in an illegal money transmitting business, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Julio De La Cruz Acosta, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to a criminal information charging him with aiding and abetting an illegal money transmitting business.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From July 2016 to December 2017, De La Cruz Acosta accepted $1.94 million in cash to purchase 67 cashier's checks at banks in and around New Jersey and elsewhere. De La Cruz Acosta admitted that he knew that the cash was from an illegal source and that he purchased the cashier's checks to aid, abet and facilitate an illegal money transmitting business.

The investigation revealed that the cash was the proceeds of illegal drug distribution. The check purchases were part of a large-scale illegal money transmitting and money laundering scheme designed to hide the illegal source of the cash and transfer it from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic and Colombia, all while attempting to avoid scrutiny by law enforcement and U.S. banks.

The charge of aiding and abetting an illegal money transmitting business carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount involved in the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for May 17, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents and task force officers of IRS - Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez; special agents and task force officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; the Morristown, New Jersey, Police Department, under the direction of Acting Police Chief Darnell Richardson; and the Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas (the Dominican Republic National Drug Directorate, or DNCD) with the investigation leading to today's guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan M. Peck of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit in Newark.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.