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Man pleads guilty to allegedly laundering over $35 million in Massachusetts and Rhode Island



Photo courtesy of Department of Justice

BOSTON – A Rhode Island man and the owner of a “virtual CFO” business has been charged and has agreed to plead guilty to laundering tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from internet fraud schemes by creating shell companies and opening fraudulent business bank accounts.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Justice, 73-year-old Craig Clayton of Cranston, R.I., has agreed to plead guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of obstruction of justice. Clayton was previously arrested and charged by criminal complaint. A plea hearing has not yet been scheduled by the Court.

According to the charging documents, from 2019 to 2021, Clayton and others used his accounting and “virtual CFO” business, Rochart Consulting, as a front to launder the proceeds of internet fraud schemes. As part of the conspiracy, Clayton allegedly founded shell companies to open business bank accounts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, through which he laundered the proceeds of internet fraud schemes on behalf of his clients. In total, Clayton allegedly laundered more than $35 million.

In communications with one of his Rochart co-conspirators, Clayton allegedly stated that they were “money mules complicit in their [Rochart’s clients’] offenses.” In encrypted communications with one of his client co-conspirators, Clayton allegedly expressed concern that his phone was “tapped” by law enforcement and sought to obtain “dirt” on a victim who had reported the fraud scheme in order to “distract the police.” It is further alleged that, when banks and law enforcement began to investigate Rochart, Clayton falsely told investigators and bank personnel that his shell companies were legitimate businesses, among other things. After he became aware that a federal grand jury was investigating him, Clayton allegedly attempted to obstruct the ongoing investigation by making several false statements to federal agents during an interview.

As proceeds of the money laundering conspiracy, Clayton has agreed to forfeit more than $330,000 and a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle that he purchased.

The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the proceeds, whichever is greater. The charge of obstruction of justice provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Michael J. Krol, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England; Harry Chavis, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Boston Field Office; and Jennifer De La O, Director of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Boston Field Office made the announcement. This case is the result of a multi-agency coordinated investigation led by the Homeland Security Investigations in New England, El Dorado Financial Task Force; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Ian J. Stearns of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit and Alexandra Amrhein of the Asset Recovery Unit are prosecuting the case.

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