Marilyn Stewart, 39, a former Las Vegas businesswoman, has been charged with federal conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and lying to the FBI. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Stewart who allegedly operated two bogus debt-relief companies in Las Vegas, pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, 15 counts of mail fraud, 12 counts of wire fraud, six counts of money laundering and one count of making a false statement to the FBI.
Pureasset Investment Corp. and Reviving American Dreams, owned by Stewart and her alleged co-conspirator, Henry Lee Stuckey, made claims to clients that the companies could help people obtain loans and reduce credit card, student loan, vehicle and mortgage debts. Clients were required to pay an advance fee for each debt program, and allegedly told that they would receive a refund if the debt reduction was successful. Clients also received a referral commission for anyone else they got to sign up for the programs.
Government officials say Stewart and Stuckey also allegedly made false statements to clients about whether their debts were being paid, and used client advance fees for the owners’ personal expenses, such as rent, food, travel, entertainment and attorney fees.
All told, Stewart and Stuckey received more than $200,000 in advance fees from about 66 customers in various states, including Nevada, officials said.
If convicted, Stewart will face up to 20 years in prison on each conspiracy count and fraud count and up to 5 years in prison on the false statement count. She also could face fines up to $10.25 million. Stuckey was charged separately.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1341: “Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article, for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefore, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1343: “Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”
Under the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, individuals are prohibited from engaging in a financial transaction with proceeds that were generated from certain specific crimes. Additionally, the law requires that an individual specifically intend in making the transaction to conceal the source, ownership or control of the funds. There is no minimum threshold of money, nor is there the requirement that the transaction succeed in actually disguising the money.
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