On September 18, 2015, news station KHOU released a story regarding a 44-year-old man named Trace Werner who had been arrested on suspicion of misappropriating funds from a Little League baseball team. According to the article, the man was placed under arrest on September 3 and he was charged with misusing his position as treasurer of the team to steal funds. He was charged with the following crimes:
- Theft of Property
- Misappropriation of Fiduciary/Finance Property
- Money Laundering
After being arrested, the man admitted to stealing $25,000 from the Sierra Plantation Baseball League. He is alleged to have begun misusing funds in 2012 and he was made treasurer of the team in 2013. It is uncertain how much money he actually misappropriated because the thefts may have involved cash transactions, which are difficult to trace.
The article states that an investigation began in 2014 after board members noticed that Werner was submitting falsified reports. He may have been altering financial records in order to conceal his misuse of funds. This is a common tactic used by people who are engaging in money laundering.
How Money Laundering Works
In Section 31.01 of the Texas Penal Code, theft is defined as the use of deception or direct action to deprive another person of their property without consent. Money laundering is a type of theft that involves deception and false reporting to cover up the fact that money is being gained from illegal activities.
For example, money laundering can involve:
- Disguising the total amount of money earned by an organization
- Disguising the actual source of income
- Allocating money for unnecessary purchases
According to the KHOU article, Werner submitted false reports to the board of the team. This may have been done in an attempt to cover up how much income was earned or where the money was being spent. This is a classic money laundering technique that appears in many criminal cases in an attempt to hide the illegal activity.
A 2014 article detailed the case of a woman named Alysia Mena in Jacinto City who was arrested after being suspected of stealing money from a girls’ softball team. The article indicates that the woman repeatedly claimed that the team was out of money, causing other team supporters to organize fundraisers. The woman allegedly made no reports of the income and the money has not been accounted for. It is alleged that the woman may have stolen up to $7500.
The woman has been charged with felony theft which carries potential penalties including:
- Up to two years in state jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
With the help of a criminal defense attorney, a defendant who has been charged with theft of money laundering may be able to construction a strong legal defense. With enough strong evidence, the defense attorney may be able to show that the defendant did not intentionally or knowingly engage in theft.
Also, the defense attorney may be able to arrange a deal with the prosecuting attorney for a plea bargain. This may allow the defendant to enter a guilty plea for a less serious charge, possible resulting in avoiding jail time or lowered financial penalties.
If you have been accused of money laundering, you need to protect yourself with the best legal defense possible. The Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky provides an aggressive, experienced defense. Contact him today at (713) 227-0087.