SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Three owners and operators of Mike's Auto Sales and A-1 Auto Finance have pleaded guilty to several financial crimes in federal court.
Representatives from several federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies announced the pleas at a news conference on Monday.
William Boyter pled guilty to money laundering, Michael Boyter pled guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud, and Anthony Riley pled guilty to 2 counts of failure to comply with federal banking regulations.
According to the 15-count indictment filed against the men in July 2012, the car dealership sold and financed cars to drug dealers beginning in 1996 and continuing through November 2010. Prosecutors say both Michael and William Boyter and Anthony Riley were aware they were accepting cash from drug dealers and even falsified records of payments received, so they could pocket some of the money.
In 2009 and 2010, the FBI conducted "sting" operations asking people to purchase vehicles in other people's names and use large amounts of cash to pay for the vehicles. According Stephanie Finley, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the operation proved the defendants accepted large amounts of money thought to be drug proceeds and skimmed cash from down payments by manipulating records to show lower sales prices and reduced amounts of down payments.
"The defendants have admitted to their involvement in assisting drug traffickers in their illegal activities that took place at Mike's Auto Sales and A-1 Auto Finance," Finley said. "They sold vehicles to drug dealers and used the money to enrich themselves. They further broke the law by attempting to hide the proceeds of the illegally obtained wealth by lying on tax forms and not reporting income. We thank all of the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participated in this investigation. My office will continue to vigorously prosecute those who do business with criminal elements in order to make quick profit."
The trio are even accused of giving the police fake information to get cars back that were seized from the drug dealers. US attorney Stephanie Finley hope this case will serve as a warning to others. "When we stay vigilant, we ensure that criminals will not profit from their illegal activity. I also hope this is a warning, they will be denied their enjoyment of ill-gotten gain," said Finley.
"This is an important victory for the American public," stated Gabriel Grchan, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. "Michael Boyter, William Boyter and Anthony Riley have taken responsibility for their roles in these crimes with the entering of their guilty pleas. It is important to note that not only are the Boyters and Mr. Riley going to be sentenced for their crimes, but the government has seized a significant portion of the illegal proceeds through asset forfeiture.
Finely says by pleading guilty, the men have agreed to forfeit the property of Mike's Auto Sales and A-1 Auto Finance, as well as a money judgment 1.3 million dollars.
The Boyters each face up to 20 years in prison and up to 250-thousand dollars in fines. Riley faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a 250-thousand dollar fine.
Sentencing is set for January 29, 2014.
The main attorneys for the three men: John Nickelson, Ansel Martin Stroud, and Elton Richey did not return our calls for comment. A fourth lawyer told KSLA News 12 he would refrain from commenting until after sentencing.