Lawyer admits $12M money transfer scheme

Lawyer admits $12M money transfer scheme

By Kristina Davis | U-T San Diego

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego business attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to a conspiracy that transmitted $12 million in illegal profits around the world.

Richard Medina Jr. admitted in San Diego federal court to abusing his position of trust as a lawyer to help legitimize the operation, which collected cash from all over the country and sent it to international banks, according to the plea agreement.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and another count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Medina, who attended the University of San Diego School of Law, agreed to forfeit nearly $12 million.

Medina, 39, was able to keep the flow of cash secret by running it through several Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts that he controlled, according to the indictment. The accounts allow lawyers to deposit a client’s funds into interest-bearing accounts for the benefit of charities.

The accounts also allowed him to conduct large transactions in secret, bypassing federal law that requires banks to report transactions that exceed $10,000 per day.

Many of the transactions were in amounts of $200,000 to $300,000, court records show.

Co-defendant Omar Trevino Caro Del Castillo pleaded guilty earlier this year, admitting to using Medina as a cover for the scheme to convey a sense of legitimacy, according to his plea agreement. He also admitted that the proceeds being transmitted were likely drug-trafficking profits.

A third man, Francisco Cuevas, pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy.

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